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Issues Ment Health Nurs. 1997 Sep-Oct;18(5):433-54.

The experience of terminating an abusive relationship from an Anglo and African American perspective: a qualitative descriptive study.

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  • 1Viterbo College, LaCrosse, WI 54601, USA.


A common question asked about abused women is, "Why don't they leave?" This qualitative study explored the experiences of 15 African American and 15 Anglo American women who had terminated abusive relationships. The constant comparative method of analysis of audiotaped interviews revealed a 3-phase process of leaving: being in, getting out, and going on. Participants endured abuse until they could relinquish the fantasy of a happy relationship. Differences in relationship power and public response to abuse distinguished the experiences of Anglo and African American participants. Findings support the notion of leaving as a social process with similarities across both groups. However, critical differences in responses suggest that leaving is a culture-bound experience.

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