ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Diane B Mitschke


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a pervasive public health problem across the United States disproportionately affecting women and children. IPV has four primary categories of violence: physical, sexual, stalking, and psychological aggression. This dissertation utilized an interpretative phenomenological as well as a directed content analysis approaches to better understand leaving experiences of survivors of IPV. The study consisted of semi-structured interviews with 19 survivors of IPV who had left an abusive relationship and were living in either an emergency shelter or transitional housing. Participants were recruited from several domestic violence agencies. Interpretative phenomenology served as the framework for understanding the data for the first research question. All interviews were examined using van Manen’s (1997) approach to human science research analysis. Using transtheoretical model of change (TMC), social exchange theory (SET), and internal and external factors as found in the literature pertaining to leaving a violent relationship, the researcher used directed content analysis as a guided approach for the second, third, and fourth research questions. The goal of using a directed content analysis approach is to substantiate an existing theoretical framework. One of the primary themes that emerged from these interviews was there are several indicators that the participants described that contribute to violence, resiliency, and leaving the relationship. As advocates working with survivors of IPV become more knowledgeable about these indicators, they can be better equipped to prepare survivors for the leaving process. In addition, this study substantiated the use of both TMC and SET as a foundation for working with survivors throughout the leaving process. Additionally, many of the internal and external factors that play a role in the leaving process were also validated through the participants’ stories. Recommendations from this research for social work practice and education as well as proposals for future research inquiries are described.


Intimate partner violence, Domestic violence


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Social Work Commons