Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

S. Jean Caraway


Domestic violence has significant acute and long-lasting harmful effects on the well-being of women from all backgrounds with higher rates of psychological effects in ethnic minority populations. Native American women experience domestic violence at disproportionate rates and face unique barriers in overcoming challenges of healing from domestic violence. Even though the impact of domestic violence in children and adults is well-studied, research in rural and Native American populations is scarce. Women who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence in childhood have identified challenges and strengths and developed coping strategies to help them endure and adapt to surviving domestic violence in adulthood. Individuals face a wide range of risk factors and protective variables, which affect how effectively they are able to overcome challenges and develop resilience. As part of a larger study, this research aims to better understand the healing process of Native American women domestic violence survivors. The study examined adverse and protective factors identified by survivors during childhood and how they have shaped resilience in adulthood. The research employed a hermeneutic phenomenology methodology that is centered on the concept that knowledge is achievable via personal experience and insights. The themes that emerged included dysfunctional adaptation, fostering fortitude, and disrupting the cycle. Survivors provided valuable insights into their perspective of the resilience process. The results of the present study suggested that outreach, preventative, and instructional programs should be expanded, with an emphasis on creating conditions that are safe, supportive, and informative for both individuals and the communities.

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


Domestic Violence, Native American, resilience

Number of Pages



University of South Dakota



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