Women dwelling with violence

Claire Burke Draucker, Christian Madsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Purpose: To explore the Heideggerian concept of dwelling as revealed in the lives of women who have experienced sexual violence. Sexual violence against women by men known to them is a significant health problem, yet little is known about how such violence affects women's everyday experience. Methods: Phenomenologic, integrating (a) data collected in 1996 and 1997 from 10 American women who had experienced sexual violence, (b) Heideggerian philosophy, (c) other literature, and (d) excerpts from the communications media. In-depth, open-ended interviews with women, followed by analysis of transcripts using Heideggerian hermeneutics. Findings: Women "dwelling with violence" were living among and inseparable from violence, abuse, and maltreatment. Violence resulted in their "living-in-exile" - feeling uprooted, unsettled, unprotected, and distrustful. Yet their stories were about "preserving and sparing amidst violence" - caring for things they value, creating a safe place for themselves, guarding that which is essential to their nature, and seeking to protect others. Conclusions: Sexual violence can profoundly affect the lives of women. Women's narratives indicate complex and creative responses to living in a violent environment. Nurses who seek to understand the effects of violence on a woman's daily life should focus not only on symptomatic responses to a single violent event, but also should consider her life history, the social context of her daily experiences, the degree to which violence has alienated her from others, and her unique way of responding to violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-332
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nursing Scholarship
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Heldeggerian philosophy
  • Hermeneutic analysis
  • Sexual violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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