Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

The role exercise may play in how survivors of domestic violence feel and view themselves Public Deposited

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  • The National Women's Health Information Center reports that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to American women and that nearly one-third of American women have been physically assaulted by their significant other at some point in their lives. These women often experience depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and grief (Campbell et al., 1995). Literature supports the use of physical activity in promoting psychological well-being. The purpose of this study, then, was to evaluate the influence of physical activity on how survivors of domestic violence view themselves and their circumstances. The participants were seven women (18 to 54 years) who had been in abusive relationships, on average for eleven years, and who had recently left their partners. The participants were given access to an exercise facility and participated in one, two, three, or four interviews at one-month intervals. Interview questions covered abuse history, physical activity levels, self-view, emotional status, and how exercise may have influenced these factors. Qualitative analysis of 11 participants' responses revealed that exercise gave women the perception of healing, "getting out of trauma mode," of working towards a future self, "moving towards the vision of the type of person that I want to be," and freedom. Exercise improved their self-view by demonstrating to them that they were advancing beyond their abuse-controlled lives; that they were taking care of themselves. Women found exercise an effective means of "eliminating nervous energy" that resulted from being battered women, which in turn improved emotional status. Results are discussed in terms of the unique benefits derived from physical activity by these women, how exercise enhanced their recovery, and suggestions made by participants as to how the benefits of exercise could be fully realized.
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