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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Lived experience of wife abuse for Indo-Canadian Sikh women Badyal, Pindy


A qualitative research design, based on Colaizzi's (1978) understanding of Husserl's transcendental phenomenology, was used to explore and describe the personal experiences of wife abuse for Indo-Canadian Sikh women. Eight women volunteered to take part in this research study. The women were recruited from a social service agency in the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Data were collected through in-depth personal interviews that were audiotaped and later transcribed. Data analysis was based on the guidelines proposed by Colaizzi (1978). Five themes were identified and developed during the data analysis: (1) "An Eroding Sense of Self", components of this theme included self-doubt, self-blame, and sense of worthlessness. (2) "Changing Face of Fear", for Indo-Canadian Sikh women, fear alternated from distress about safety to worries about poverty, abandonment, and alienation. (3) "Feeling Extremely Ambivalent"; concern for the children, lack of finances, an attachment to their husbands, and the hope that they would change contributed to the women's profound ambivalence about whether to salvage or end their abusive marriages. (4) "A sense of Overwhelming Entrapment"; this theme was comprised of cultural dictates such as izzat (family honour) and the sanctity of marriage. (5) "Reclaiming Personal Strength"; the women utilized multiple sources including their religious faith, support from friends and family as well as psychotherapy to help them to reclaim personal strength. Having financial assistance, support from their families, and a safe place to go were crucial factors that enabled some of the Indo-Canadian Sikh women to leave their abusive marriages. The women showed incredible strength as they met the challenges imposed by cultural dictates such as izzat and clash of values with the dominant culture regarding marriage and family life. Despite insurmountable challenges and barriers to care, these women continued to persevere in their struggle to free themselves from the abuse in their marriages. The findings of this study point to the need for more cultural sensitivity training for various legal and health care professionals in order to offer effective and culturally sensitive care for this group of women. The implications of the findings for clinical practice are discussed and recommendations for further research are provided.

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