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Recovering trauma: An ethnographic study of women's storytelling within contemporary support group environments

Alpha Selene Anderson Delap, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Using ethnographic methods, this case study explores the ways in which women use the ritual of group storytelling to construct “survivor” identities after experiencing domestic violence. The primary focus of this study is an examination of the interrelationship between Second Wave radical and cultural feminist discourse, gender identity formation and contemporary anti-violence educational and clinical practice. The communication events studied to produce these stories are informal conversations, participant observation of shelter outreach group work and semi-structured interviews. This research project analyzes how women use stories to both comprehend and reconstruct their experiences of domestic violence. In addition, it interrogates how adult women in twenty-first century Northern Colorado combine both feminist and recovery concepts and tropes to trouble normative notions of the ‘victim’ of intimate trauma and in doing so, create more useful and potentially oppositional representations of the adult female self after interpersonal abuse.

Subject Area

Communication|Womens studies|American studies|Social work

Recommended Citation

Anderson Delap, Alpha Selene, "Recovering trauma: An ethnographic study of women's storytelling within contemporary support group environments" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3096271.