Toronto Metropolitan University
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Older Brazilian women’s experience of psychological domestic violence: a social phenomenological study

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-05-21, 16:32 authored by Rafaella Souto, Miriam Aparecida Barbosa Merighi, Sepali Guruge, Maria Cristina Pinto de Jesus
Background: Domestic violence is a global public health issue, as it is in Brazil. The psychological violence is one of the most prevalent forms of domestic violence, affecting more women than men. However, many older adults do not consider it as a type of domestic violence. In addiction, psychological violence has received little attention from researchers. So, this study aims to further understand the phenomenon of psychological domestic violence perpetrated by relatives against older adult women (60 years and older). Methods A qualitative study was conducted using a social phenomenological approach proposed by Alfred Schütz. In-depth interviews were conducted with 11 older Brazilian women from three different agencies, two in Campina Grande and one in São Bernardo do Campo. Data collection took place between November 2012 and February 2013. We performed data analysis using the key concepts (such as the world of everyday life, natural attitude, intersubjetivity, stock of knowledge, biographical situation, social action, motivation and typification) proposed by Alfred Schutz. Results Despite the fact that participants reported being psychologically abused, they also referred to being neglected and financially abused. They revealed being threatened, disrespected, neglected, financially abused, forced to do housework, and humiliated. Older women expressed feelings of sadness, anger, grief, and fear, which had negative effects on their health. Attempts by the participants to change their current situations were unsuccessful and resulted in feelings of helplessness. The abuser’s behaviour will change, and leaving the abusive situation were two possible outcomes pointed for participants. Conclusions A support network is crucial to help changing the behaviour of aggressors and/or to help older adult women leave the abusive situation. Further research is needed to understand the risk factors linked to abuse behaviours, to develop educational programs for the abusers, and to design social support for the victims.