The lived experience of witnessing domestic violence as a child
LE3 .A278 2004
Master of Education
The effects of witnessing domestic violence as a child have been well researched for many years. There has been little research, however, focusing on the experience of witnessing domestic violence and the ways in which this experience manifests itself across a lifetime. The present study explores this life experience. The major purpose of this study was to unearth the essence of this childhood trauma, resulting in a unique perspective of the early effects as well as the struggles that accompany these witnesses throughout their lifetime. One male and one female participant who witnessed domestic violence and experienced physical abuse comprised the sample. During the research period the male participant was 28 years of age and the female participant was 34. Each participant was interviewed individually using the research questions as a guide. The stories were analyzed individually due to the uniqueness of the experiences. The major themes were: the emotional impact of witnessing domestic violence, perceptions of self and resiliency. The participant's personal experiences with healing and abandonment are included in the conclusions due to their significance to the research. Recommendations are based on the experience of the participants' and include proactively engaging youth who are suspected of witnessing domestic violence, education for mental health professionals regarding this specific experience and suggested healing strategies for counselling. It is suggested that future research focus on the neurological implications of witnessing domestic violence as well as the role of resiliency in the intergenerational cycle of violence.
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