Fourteen Main Obstacles on the Journey to Post-Traumatic Growth as Experienced by Female Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence: “It Was All So Confusing”

Hulda S. Bryngeirsdottir*, Sigridur Halldorsdottir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, we identified 14 obstacles experienced by female survivors of intimate partner violence who had, nonetheless, reached post-traumatic growth (PTG), which is a positive psychological change by a person following serious difficulties or traumatic events. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is such a trauma. The purpose of this study was to analyze the obstacles to PTG as experienced by women who have succeeded in reaching PTG following traumatic IPV. Participants were twenty-two women aged 23–56 who self-reported their PTG according to the working definition used. The participants reported feelings of diminished self-worth that had negatively influenced their lives and how these negative feelings delayed their PTG. The overriding theme of the study was “It was all so confusing”, which expressed the essence of the participants’ feelings when describing the obstacles they encountered on their journey to PTG. Most of those obstacles were intrapersonal, i.e., negative personal feelings and negative perspectives towards themselves. Other obstacles reported by participants were physical and psychological health problems, challenging personal circumstances, and the perpetrator, as well as laws, regulations, and institutional social systems. This study reveals the broad range of obstacles encountered by women on their journey to PTG following IPV, emphasizing the necessity of an interdisciplinary approach when holistically considering their situation and supporting them on their journey towards PTG.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5377
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Other keywords

  • gender-based violence (GBV)
  • interdisciplinary approach
  • intimate partner violence (IPV)
  • phenomenology
  • post-traumatic growth (PTG)
  • public health
  • qualitative research
  • rehabilitation
  • trauma recovery
  • women’s health
  • Post-traumatic growth
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Women's health
  • Humans
  • Survivors/psychology
  • Mental Health
  • Emotions
  • Posttraumatic Growth, Psychological
  • Female
  • Intimate Partner Violence/psychology


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