The Mosaic of a Superhero: A Ricoeurian Hermeneutic Construction of Life and Identity After Intimate Partner Violence

Thaggard, Sandra
Water, Tineke
Gilkison, Andrea
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis is a hermeneutic interpretation of how women constructed a life and identity after intimate partner violence. The hermeneutical philosophy of Paul Ricoeur formed the methodological framework of the thesis; and the threefold concept of mimesis 1, mimesis 2, and mimesis 3 was used to interpret the women?s narratives.

This is the story of 15 women who experienced the power and control of intimate partner violence. They suffered pain and fear, and lost their sense of self and their identity, while they struggled with the shame and the stigma of intimate partner violence. It is also the story of how these women came to a moment in time, an anagnoritic moment, when they imagined a life that could be and knew they had to cross over the bridge to that other world where there was no violence. They plotted and planned and let go of all that they had worked for and held dear just to get to the other side. They were stalked and threatened and despaired of ever making it; but they crossed that bridge and, on the other side, took small steps forward to rebuild their shattered lives.

These women took back their sense of self and reclaimed their power and control. With each step and action a new tile was laid into a mosaic that embodied the story of their lives. The mosaic held significance and meaning, and all the actions they took to gain a new identity of a superhero. The stories these women have shared of the journey to constructing a new life offer insights to all those who work or come into contact with women who have experienced intimate partner violence and reaffirms that interpersonal violence concerns us all.

Women , Intimate partner violence , Sense of self , Self agency , Shame , Violence , New life , Meaning and purpose , Scars that Remain , Paul Ricoeur , Hermeneutics , Power and control , Construction of life after IPV , New identity , Mimesis , Superhero
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