Perceptions of Boundary Ambiguity in the Process of Leaving an Abusive Partner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The process of leaving an abusive partner has been theorized using the Stages of Change Model. Although useful, this model does not account for changes in relational boundaries unique to the process of leaving. Using family stress and feminist perspectives, this study sought to integrate boundary ambiguity into the Stages of Change Model. Boundary ambiguity is defined as a perception of uncertainty as to who is in or out of a family system (Boss & Greenberg, 1984). Twenty-five mothers who had temporarily or permanently left their abusers were interviewed. Data were analyzed using constructivist grounded theory methods. Results identify types, indicators of, and mothers' responses to boundary ambiguity throughout the five stages of change. Most mothers and abusers fluctuated between physical and psychological presence and absence over multiple separations. The integration of boundary ambiguity into the Stages of Change Model highlights the process of leaving an abusive partner as systemic, fluid, and nonlinear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-343
Number of pages17
JournalFamily Process
Volume54
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Keywords

  • Boundary Ambiguity
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • Qualitative Research
  • Relationship Dissolution
  • Stages of Change Model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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