Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Martin Wesley

Second Advisor

Dr. Angela Brinton


Unattended trauma-induced stressors resulting from incidents of violent victimization can escalate into mental health challenges, including trauma-related and substance-abuse disorders, which most often co-occur in a debilitating manner. Therefore, it is essential to conduct ongoing exploratory research on cognitive-based approaches (e.g., spirituality), psychological adaptations (e.g., human resilience), and trauma-informed approaches (e.g., meditation, expressive writing), which serve to reduce or offset the adverse impact of trauma.

Twelve women who experienced victimization and traumatization but did not seek professional mental-health intervention were interviewed; six had been abused as children and eight as adults. Some did not contact or follow through with reports to the police either because they faced pressure to drop charges or because they were children when abused. Some also reported a lack of family intervention and support. Most reported withdrawing, secluding, and isolating themselves while benefitting from constructive coping activities that they could engage in alone (e.g., reflective journaling, prayer, and meditation), in addition to them reportedly engaging in structured support groups at church or in the community that could teach them about coping and leaving abusers.

Spirituality also helped participants find new meaning regarding self-revaluating established relationships, in addition to helping them move positively forward. Some also mentioned that counseling could likely help them effectively cope futuristically, but they had not sought counseling because they thought they were not good at talking about feelings or they had negative perceptions of therapy. Key messages for survival were to be cautious and not remain in violent and abusive situations. Key messages for coping were to stay strong, address victimization and traumatization, and strive for love and happiness.

Included in

Counseling Commons