Strength trapped within weakness/weakness trapped within strength: The influence of family of origin experiences on the lives of abused women

Eli Buchbinder, Liora Birnbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

By conceptualizing abused women as victims or survivors, the literature offers two contradictory narratives of abused women. The aim of this article is to show that these two narratives are not mutually exclusive but rather can be used simultaneously to represent battered women's existential experiences. The study sample was comprised of 20 Israeli battered women. Three in-depth interviews were conducted with each participant-twice for data collection purposes and once for validating the themes that emerged from the content analysis. "Strength trapped in weakness/weakness trapped in strength" was found to be a dominant theme in the life narratives of the interviewees. Most interviewees grew up in families of origin in distress; most were abused physically and emotionally. Although this anguish colored their lives with pain and turmoil, their experiences were the key to their ability to overcome difficulties. From the onset, interviewees' lives were marked by a sense of threat and deprivation, but these very difficulties were also the source of a sense of power that emerged from the women's struggle with their past. In their attempts to cope with and transcend the legacies of their past, interviewees' feelings oscillated continuously between past and present, creating a unique powerful sense of simultaneously being victims and survivors. Implications for intervention are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-678
Number of pages21
JournalViolence Against Women
Volume16
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2010

Keywords

  • Abused women
  • Domestic violence
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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