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While leaving abusive male partners, women engaged in a 4 stage process of reclaiming self

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QUESTION: What are the experiences of women who have left abusive male partners and have not gone back?


Feminist grounded theory.


Small towns and rural communities in eastern Canada.


15 Caucasian women identified by lay and professional helpers as having left abusive relationships (age range: late teens to mid 50 y; education level range: elementary school to university degree; employment status: employed, students, or receiving social assistance).


All women were interviewed and initially asked to talk about how they had left their relationships. Interviews were transcribed, and concepts were identified in data analysis. Theoretical sampling and coding were used to clarify relationships between concepts and facilitate the development of a theoretical framework. In repeat interviews, emerging theories were shared with participants for discussion and refinement.

Main findings

Reclaiming self was the central social psychological process that emerged, in which women journeyed through 4 …

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  • Sources of funding: University of New Brunswick Fund and the Victim Services Fund.

  • For correspondence: Dr J Wuest or Ms M Merritt-Gray, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada. mmerritt{at}