Strategies of Distancing from Emotional Experience: Making Memories of Domestic Violence

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Through autobiographical memory people give meaning to what has happened to them. When people are involved in traumatic events, they are faced with essential and existential questions regarding their identity and relation with others and the world. On the one hand, they have the need to recollect and process those memories; on the other hand, they feel a need to distance themselves and forget or detach from the pain and threat involved in such memories. Data was collected from in-depth interviews of 20 couples involved in domestic violence. Data analysis revealed that the reconstruction of narrative memory serves as a tool for positioning oneself vis-a-vis the violent experience. We describe and analyse the ways by which interviewees regard their emotional processes, values, and identities as vehicles by which they construct the recollection and the narrative of a violent event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-32
Number of pages24
JournalQualitative Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2005


  • distance from experience
  • domestic violence
  • identity
  • identity construction
  • reconstruction of experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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