Moving from surviving to thriving: African American women recovering from intimate male partner abuse

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

Res Theory Nurs Pract

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Research and theory for nursing practice

PubMed ID



In this ethnographic study, a womanist framework was used to investigate the process of recovery from domestic violence. A purposive sample of African American women (N = 21) was interviewed to gain understanding of their recovery process. Survivorship-thriving was the overarching process. Six themes related to survivorship-thriving were identified: (a) Sharing secrets/Shattering silences--sharing information about the abuse with others; (b) Reclaiming the Self-defining oneself separate from abuser and society; (c) Renewing the Spirit-nurturing and restoring the spiritual and emotional self; (d) Self-healing through Forgiveness--forgiving their partners for the abuse and violence; (e) Finding inspiration in the Future-looking to the future with optimism; and (f) Self-generativity by Engaging in Social Activism--participating in prosocial activities to promote social change. This article presents recovery oriented towards survivorship-thriving as a transformative process overall characterized by resilience and self-generativity. This represents more than just recovery as return to homeostasis or "back to normal." Implications for survivor-informed practices are included.


Adaptation, Psychological, Adult, African Americans/psychology, Aged, Anthropology, Cultural, Battered Women/psychology, Female, Humans, Interpersonal Relations, Middle Aged, Self Concept, Spirituality, Spouse Abuse/psychology/rehabilitation, Truth Disclosure, Washington

Published Article/Book Citation

Research and theory for nursing practice, 18:1 (2004) pp.35-50.

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