Macquarie University
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(Un)making the good woman: the process of resilience development and recovery to end partner violence

posted on 2022-03-28, 01:23 authored by Parvani Pinnewala
Women's agency in resolving partner violence (PV) is well documented. However, empirical, theoretical, and clinical understandings of PV in South Asia in general, and Sri Lanka in particular, are limited. This is the first in-depth investigation into women's help-seeking, coping, and social support in the context of PV in Sri Lanka. Its primary aim is to examine women's coping strategies and support systems in ending violence, whilst developing a theory for women's responses to PV. Insofar as it links these variables in a single study, and attempts to develop a theory of resilience in the face of PV, this investigation is also the first of its kind for South Asia. Women's process of responding to PV is examined using a representative sample of types of PV, relationships, PV experiences, help-seeking, and socio-demographics. -- Eighty-four participants accessing crisis centres and hospital desks were selected. The mixed methods design included questionnaires and interviews. For analysis, qualitative grounded theory was employed, backed by quantitative analysis of the constructs examined. -- The main contribution is a theory developed to explain the process of women's responses to PV. The theory encapsulates the process of resilience development and recovery in responding to PV. It demonstrates that responses to violence occur as a non-linear, five-stage process, with regressions in most stages. The theory posits that critical incidents and turning points facilitate moments of insight leading to insight-mediated personality changes and to progression through the stages. It also demonstrates that participants employ increased resilience to transform themselves, the PV, and the culture they occupy. The theory also demonstrates that coping, support seeking and support giving occur as non-linear processes, whilst cognitive development and women's development of agency occur as linear processes. The findings support the study's hypotheses by demonstrating that various coping strategies (problem and emotion focused) and support systems (informal and formal) are necessary for ending PV. The study identified the critical roles of socio-cultural factors as obstacles, and children as essential support givers, for women's agency in ending PV. Besides contributing theoretically and empirically to several research domains, this study also addresses serviceprovision needs of help-seeking women.


Alternative Title

Unmaking the good woman

Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Theoretical literature review -- Empirical background: the Asian literature -- Theoretical background -- Three models: relevance of basic assumptions, usage and cultural compatibility -- Giving voice to women's responses: clinical evidence, issues and themes -- 3. Empirical literature review -- Partner violence -- Coping -- Social support -- 4. Methodology -- 5. Quantitative results -- Psychometric assessment of the developed questionnaires -- Scale development: factor analysis -- The three factor solution -- Reliability analysis of ways of coping - Sri Lanka WOCSL Scale -- Support Systems questionnaire -- Reliability analysis of the Support System Scale -- Partner violence questionnaire -- Validity measures for the developed instruments -- Quantitative analysis of the results -- Correlation coefficient analysis -- Cluster analysis -- One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) -- 6. Qualitative results -- A theory on the process of women's resilience development and recovery in responding to PV -- The phenomenon of partner violence in Sri Lanka: dynamics of PV, socio-cultural factors and help-seeking -- Characteristics of partner violence -- Perpetrator characteristics -- Dynamics of culture and the socialization process -- Emotional factors related to PV and help-seeking -- 7. Qualitative results -- A theory on the process of women's resilience development and recovery in responding to partner violence -- Stage 1 - Victimization: "I'm trying, but it's not working: I need to please others and stay" -- Stage 2 - Active exploratory coping: "It's not working, so let's try different, more active methods" -- 8. Qualitative results -- Stage 3 - Targeted coping: "I am becoming resilient: I matter, I decide what I need" -- Stage 4 - Transformative stage: "That's it - I have tried everything, now I am ending this" -- Stage 5 - Resilience and recovery stage: "I have arrived and found myself, now it is about me as well as others" -- 9. Discussion -- The process of resilience development and recovery in responding to partner violence -- Coping as a process -- The process of cognitive development -- Support-seeking and support-giving as a process -- Moments of insight (MOIs) as a possible mechanism for the resilience development process -- Women's development of agency as a process -- Partner violence and perpetrator characteristics -- The culture and th .......[See attached thesis files for full TOC].


Bibliography: pages 526-546

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Doris McIlwain


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Parvani Pinnewala 2011.




Sri Lanka


1 online resource (xvi, 546 pages)

Former Identifiers

mq:26974 1987053