African immigrant women survivors of domestic abuse
: an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of their perceptions and experiences of counselling and support services in the UK

  • Jesca Tukahebwa

Student thesis: PsychD


Domestic abuse impacts upon whole families, yet women worldwide are recorded as the most prevalent victims in domestic abuse incidents. Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups have been examined in relation to domestic abuse however, there is rather limited research around African immigrant women survivors of domestic abuse and their experiences of counselling and support services in the United Kingdom (UK). Therefore, the present study adopts a qualitative approach to explore and gain an in-depth understanding of how African immigrant women survivors of domestic abuse perceive and experience counselling and support services, and to give these immigrant women an opportunity to voice their experiences of such services. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were carried out with six African immigrant women survivors of domestic abuse, and interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Five superordinate themes were developed from the interview data: Barriers to seeking help, Breaking point to seeking help, Overcoming fear and Building trust, Journeying together and Recognising a new me. The results indicated that prior to accessing counselling the women felt increasingly vulnerable, as they were eroded of their sense of self and felt trapped in marriage due to cultural and immigration threats. The results also revealed the participants’ journey to seeking help and these women reported enjoying their newly-found freedom and their strong sense of self that developed during the process of counselling. Their accounts showed the potential transformative nature of the counselling they had received. This study’s findings are discussed in relation to existing literature to understand the mechanisms and processes involved in the experiences reported by participants. This study proposes several recommendations for improvements to formal supportive network resources, education on availability and access to support services. The recommendations call for collaborative working relationships among policy makers, professionals and advocates who work with African immigrant women, to improve information and access pathways. Finally, the limitations of this study are discussed, and suggestions for future research are made.
Date of Award10 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorMark Donati (Supervisor) & Edith Maria Steffen (Supervisor)

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