• Line Maria Trangbæk Sander
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
This master’s thesis examines relations influence on battered women's identity while they are at a women's shelter (from now referred to as "shelter"), and whether the fact that they all have been subjected to violence has a significance on their relations. About 29000 women are subjected to domestic violence each year. Approximately 7% of women who are subjected to domestic violence seek help at a shelter.

An annual report (2014) from Landsorganisationen af Kvindekrisecentre - LOKK shows that about 1/3 of the women in the shelters have had 2 or more accommodations.
I have an assumption that if the women at the shelters feel better about themselves while they are at the shelters, it can reduce the risk of being subjected to violence again and with that the risk of getting back to the shelter. Further, I had the assumption that the relations have an influence on the women's identities.

To examine this issue I have chosen to make an ethnographic study. The ethnographic study's science theoretical basis is phenomenological, but along the process it became more interpretive phenomenological or hermeneutical inspired. Reality is within phenomenology experiential, and it is therefore about how phenomena appear to us. The study's perspective is therefore a first-person perspective, where the women's experiences are crucial.

The ethnographic study consisted of both observation and semi-structured life-world interviews. I have made five semi-structured life-world interviews, which I subsequently analysed. To analyse the interviews I used different theories about self and identity. I have used George Herbert Mead's theory of the "generalized other", Erving Goffman's theory of stigma as well as his theory of impression management, Richard Jenkins' theory of individuals and groups and finally Axel Honneth's theory of recognition.

The main findings are that women are included in various relationships while they are at the shelter. They interact with one another, with the staff and with their children. It looks like the relations have a significant impact on how the women feel about themselves. When women enter into relationships they have the opportunity of getting recognition, giving them self-confidence, self-appreciation and self-esteem. Furthermore the relations contribute with handling of negative thoughts and difficult emotions by talking to others about them. The fact that all of the women were subjected to violence, has given them an experience that makes it easier to say things straight out to each other.

When the women feel better about themselves, they appear to have a positive attitude and greater hope for the future. Women who for various reasons sometimes, haven't had the chance to talk to someone experienced negative consequences because of the lack of relations. Relationships can thus have a major impact on women's identity while they are at the shelter.

In conclusion it seems that relationships has a positive effect on the women's identities which could have a preventive effect in terms of making the women more psychological robust that may have an importance on whether they're going to be subjected to violence again.
Publication date1 Mar 2016
Number of pages106
ID: 229059266