Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Martha Laurence

Advisor Role

Dissertation Supervisor


Feminist social work literature has focused on the provision of educational groups for women who have been abused but has overlooked the question of women’s movement from individual survival to collective resistance. This qualitative study explores the processes through which survivors of abuse by male partners become involved in collective action to combat violence against women. Using story telling and testimonio as a research method, the author interviewed 11 women about the factors, insights, events, and processes that inspired them to join with other women to confront violence against women. The author found that women’s movement from individual survival to collective action entails significant changes in consciousness and subjectivity. Women’s processes of conscientization are complex, contradictory and often painful because they involve political and psychic dimensions of subjectivity, protracted struggles with contradictions and conflict, and resistance to knowledge that threatens to unsettle relatively stable notions of identity. She argues that feminist social work literature and practice must take into account the social, material and psychic costs of women’s growth processes, the discursive and material conditions that facilitate women’s movement, and the multifaceted and difficult nature of women’s journey in recognizing and naming abuse, making sense of their experiences, and acting on this knowledge to work for change. The author recommends that feminist social work practice recognize that survivors can and do contribute to social change efforts, and that it develop new, more inclusive liberatory models for working with survivors of abuse.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season