Wendy L. DeRosia
B.A., Centenary College, 1999
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements of the degree of
Master of Arts
This thesis for the Masters of Arts
Wendy L. DeRosia
has been approved
DeRosia, Wendy L. (M.A., Sociology)
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Candan Duran-Aydintug
Studying the victimized self is essential for several different fields of
sociology such as social psychology, family sociology, social policy, and advocacy
sociology. This research supports these different fields through understanding in
detail the relationship between self, identity and the process of victimization. This
study explores how therapists and victims identify themselves as victims, their
change process, the process of integration of the traumatic event, and the importance
of the community in the healing process. Guided by identity theory driven by
symbolic interactionism, I designed a qualitative study to understand the victimized
self. This research is based on in-depth face-to-face interviews using an interview
guideline and snowball sampling of 9 therapists who work with victims. The
findings are interpreted through identity concept and the trends that developed as a
result of the interviews will be discussed.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
I dedicate this thesis to my husband Michael who gives so much of himself to
me.. .you are my lifeline managing to keep me grounded throughout the course of
life. You keep me moving forward and past struggles and because of this, I have
learned so much from you. I would also like to dedicate this thesis to my brother
Seth. Your spirit is pure and fresh, and spending time with you rejuvenates my soul.
Candan, thank you for your guidance in this long journey filled with not only my
thesis work but also personal struggles. Throughout my time in this program, you
have taught me different ways to view the world, and I am a better person because
of this experience.
1. INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE......................................1
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE......................................3
Identity and Social Role Theory...............................8
Definition of a Victim.....................................40
Identifying Self as a Victim...............................41
Interpersonal Relationships and Community Involvement in
Relation to Commitment Theory..............................43
A Victims Change Process..................................50
Disassociation and Autonomy.............................. 55
5. CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION..................................58
Strengths and Limitations..................................63
A: INTERVIEW GUIDELINE........................................66
B: CONSENT FORM...............................................73
INTRODUCTION AND PUPOSE
Studying the victimized self is essential for several different fields of
sociology such as social psychology, family sociology, social policy, and advocacy
sociology. This provides these different fields with an understanding of the
relationship between self, identity and the process of victimization. I began to be
interested in the concept of self-victimization when I realized, one day at lunch with
several friends, that all of us had felt that we were victimized at least once in our
lives-if not numerous times. I started to think that finding people who believe they
are victims is as easy as putting out your arm and touching someone on a busy New
York City street; people who have incorporated the role of victim into their lives at
some point appear to be every where. I wanted to learn how someone identifies
himself or herself as a victim, because it seemed that we all had a slight different
view of what made us all victims. It was fascinating to listen and leam that all of us
were in a different stage of change to help deal with the victimization, and we all
incorporated the traumatic event in our lives differently. Lastly, I wanted to learn
how each of our communities affected how we viewed the healing and recovery
process. In summary, this study will explore, through interviewing therapists, how
their clients identify themselves as victims, their change process, the process of
integration of the traumatic event, and the importance of the community in the
All the different aspects of this research are being informed by identity
theory and its roots in symbolic interactionism. In this framework, I have designed
a qualitative study to understand the victimized self. The design is an in-depth face-
to-face interview study using an interview guideline and snowball sampling of 9
therapists who work with victims. The findings will be interpreted through concepts
from identity theory; advocacy and policy implications will be stressed as well.
This is powerful research because the study of victimization has yet to be included
with a theory, and the research on victimization is not stressed in social science, as it
With this thesis work, I am asserting the need for ongoing research in the
field of trauma and victimization. This is to be accomplished by interviewing
therapists and through our conversations interpret their views on the process of self-
victimization. I am hopeful that the following research conducted within this thesis
will necessitate a change within the treatment of trauma by therapists, in turn change
societys views, and keep the research on trauma fresh and ongoing. With the
strength of integrating symbolic interactionism as framework, I plan to provide
more insight into the field of trauma from a sociological perspective.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Attempting to discover research that associates symbolic interactionism with
victims in any form was a disappointing lost cause. However, beginning this
literature review by discussing what symbolic interactionism is and the different sub
theories that branch from symbolic interactionism, has been responsible for
developing my interview guideline and is responsible for the concepts discussed in
this research. Following the theory section is an additional literature review, which
discusses victims in detail, which helped to prepare me for some of the themes that
emerged from my research, and did add to my interview guideline as well.
Symbolic interactionism is the ground layer of this research. Derived from
symbolic interactionism is the identity theory, which is the leading theory in this
research on identity of victims. First, I will explain the basic tenants of symbolic
interactionism. Following symbolic interactionism, I will outline the major ideas of
identity theory including the two main elements, commitment and salience.
Symbolic Interactionism. written by Sheldon Stryker is a fundamental
publication that discusses this theory in great detail. The literature review will begin
with a summary of this book written in 1980. This book reviews the leading
philosophers who established this theory and the current implications.
Symbolic interactionism, states Sheldon Stryker, is a theory that investigates
society; in specific this theory investigates a particular phenomenon of the society.
Within examining the society, Stryker claims that society itself is not the only
component that should be analyzed, but that we must examine the self as a part of
society. Examining the self and its relationship to society is essential and should not
be ignored; both the self and society are intertwined and therefore need to be
researched together as one element-not as separate entities (Stryker, 1980).
The leading historical sociologists/philosophers all supported this theory that
self and society are intertwined. Primarily George Herbert Mead, but also John
Dewey and Charles Horton Cooley are all important influences on contemporary
symbolic interactionism (Stryker, 1980). George Herbert Mead explained how
society and self are entwined by stating that the self creates the dynamics and the
makeup of its society, and that the seifs society is a continuing process that is ever
changing and establishing itself based on the seifs whim. Mead states that symbols
help establish our society, and the expectedness of being aware of the seifs
behavior and behaviors of others creates those symbols. Therefore, symbolic
interactionism theory established the concept of self. Self was derived from the
ability to have insight to review ones past behaviors and in addition, observe
symbols that will entice the mind and result in future behaviors. George Herbert
Mead claims the process of creating a self is through role-playing, currently called
social role theory, which will be discussed later (Mead, 1934).
Symbolic interactionism accepts George Herbert Meads definition of self as
established and defined by the roles the self assumes around other people and the
social process that is involved. Society interacts with self and self interacts with
society created the continuous cycle. But self, as Mead claims, would never have
been established without society (Mead, 1934). George Herbert Meads work leads
researchers to dissect the different elements that create an individuals identity.
Peggy Thoits in her article titled Identity Structures and Psychological Well-Being:
Gender and Marital Status Comparisons (19921. defines identity as self-concepts
which are developed from continuous social positions that are accepted and
reciprocated in relationships (Thoits, 1992/
In addition to George Mead, Herbert Blumer is an important sociologist
from the Chicago School who coined the term symbolic interactionism. The
Chicago School is considered to be the earliest place of work that was concerned
with interdisciplinary studies, and brought together works from numerous
sociologists. Herbert Blumer (1900-1987) wanted to understand how people who
are in constant action are also in control of themselves within society. The two
aspects of symbolic interactionism that Blumer observed was (1) how people related
to others and create meaning from those experiences and (2) how people give
meaning to symbols and act upon those meanings (Blumer, 1960). Blumer stated
that symbols are abstract meanings attached to things, people, and behavior so that
they can have different meanings for different individuals (Adams, 2002, p. 166).
The meanings that we attach to these symbols are not necessarily functional or
appropriate. However, the assumption asserts that the meanings are directed to help
the democratic society and are indeed appropriate. Interaction refers to our self-
communication; translating symbols and meanings to reflect our lifestyle. Joint
actions are concepts that are found within interaction, and this concept addresses the
reason why people respond the same in their behaviors when receiving a symbol.
Herbert Blumer states that the theory of symbolic interactionism makes a
clear distinction that the interaction occurs between people not roles. Roles that
individuals associate with will affect their interaction, but roles do not create the
interaction. The two basic elements to symbolic interactionism are as follows: (1)
individuals act based on the incidents particular meaning-as they interpreted the
meaning, and (2) the meaning that the individual acts from is based on the
interaction they have between others.
Qualitative, exploratory research is the design method that Herbert Blumer
suggested for data collection. The exploratory and qualitative method develops a
general study of concepts that researchers can use to create a research focus. Within
this method of research, Herbert Blumer developed the face-to-face theory that
correlated his work with Erving Goffrnan (Blumer, 1960).
Erving Goffinan studied the con man and was concerned with the general
conduct of the individual. He was concerned with how individuals behaviors
contributed to society-not their individual self. Erving Goffinan would study the
self in a micro level and then correlate these micro findings to a macro level, and he
included moral elements to the findings to describe the social world. His work was
therefore very inductive and also exploratory plus qualitative (Goffinan, 1974).
Frame analysis is a concept that Erving Goffinan established because he was
concerned with what the individuals experience is/was at any given moment. He
felt that individuals experiences and social structures are linked together as an
interaction. Meaning, one cannot occur without the other, and social structures are
based on individual contact to others. He asserts that frames are assumptions that
individuals use to help us understand and make the most appropriate decisions. The
two types of frames are natural and social frames (Goffinan, 1974).
A natural frame concerns itself with the physical world that does not involve
people. Social frames are the basic understandings individuals bring to any
interaction that provide the means to comprehend the motives, intentions, and
desires of others (Adams,2002, p. 172). Erving Goffinan asserts that frames make
life predictable and manageable for people. However, when frames are
undermined than people will gain awareness of them out of consequence
Humans as performers was a metaphor established by Erving Gofiman to
explain how humans present themselves in their various social roles in face-to-face
interactions with others (Adams, 2002, p. 173). It illustrates how people appear to
others, and within the concept impression management, the person hopes that others
will buy into the self they presented. Erving Gofiman details his metaphor even
more specifically with the concepts of front and back stage behavior. Front stage, as
imagined, consists of a persons outer appearance. Back stage relates to the
persons inner workings-where they can be honest about their thoughts and feelings
to themselves and others. An example of the back stage behavior, Erving Gofiman
asserts that every female feels that when she is around men she is not herself.
Regardless, back to the concepts of front and back stage, it is asserted that a
healthy separation between the two is necessary and appropriate to create balance in
life. But embarrassment and other associated emotions will occur if there is an
undisciplined correlation between front and back stage self. Erving Gofiman does
explain the ever so often happenings of someone saving someone elses
embarrassing moments with laughter and/or other means or acting like a scapegoat.
He also explains virtual identity verses actual identity (Gofiman, 1974).
Identity and Social Role Theory
The goal of identity theory is to understand how society affects us and how
self affects society (Stryker, 2000). Virtual identity is how the person thinks they
should be in reference to others views. The other identity is actual identity, which
is the identity that the person truly has-not just what they have convinced others of.
The persons social identity will be ruined if there is a difference between virtual
and actual identity. This creates stigma and discrimination, which Erving Goffinan
would say is a natural occurrence with life but can be altered with institutions.
Total institutions is a way people can be shut out of the world and
consequently be shut out from their ability to identify their self-they do not have to
deal with their virtual or actual self. They begin to correlate their self with the
institution, but sometimes can use the resources of the institution to reclaim their
self and autonomy. (Such as what is encouraged in inpatient drug and alcohol
Erving Goffinan spends time discussing class and race-but not much about
gender, despite the chapter focusing on his gender work. He feels that the gender
issue was/is significant, but only because culture makes the differences significant.
He asserts that gender issues will always be relevant and always occur because they
are developed and engrained by parents; gender is a ritual (Goffinan, 1974).
He does comment that the major issue with gender differences is the
household labor division. A feminist sociologist, Arlie Hochschild explains further
about household labor division, but does not stop at simply illustrating the problem
as Erving Goffinan does.
Arlie Hochschild began developing her views of gender in graduate school,
when she was having problems being a mother and a student without any female
role models to mimic her lifestyle after. She began to incorporate emotions into her
work and as a result contributed greatly to the field. She wanted to understand all
emotional responses and examined signs of emotions as well as the persons inner
emotions. She was not interested in the front stage of emotions as Erving Gofiman
was. Instead, Arlie Hochschild wanted to understand what the person was feeling
on the inside, which was and is expected to be different and more honest. Her
sociological interests was personally based, influenced by Erving Gofiman and
Freud regarding his theory on the unconscious, and she used interviews and
observations to gain her research.
Under the study of class, gender, and race she created the concept of
emotional work and emotion management. The two types of emotion work is
evocation: where the feeling is absent, and suppression is where the feeling is
initially present. The emotion work is seen through three different techniques
together to deal with the emotions: cognitive, bodily, and expressive. Emotion work
is done without conscious effort, and Arlie Hochschild asserts that because of the
feminists movement men and women are able to express similar emotional work
When discussing class, she refers to emotional expression and its correlation
with labor. The less emotions that a person displays and the less emotions are tied
to their employment, the more lower class they are. Also she found that women in
middle class families deal with feelings better than males. Parents in working class
families deal and control their children through emotions and feelings, while
working class feelings address their children through their behaviors.
More specifically, Arlie Hochschild feels that women are still dependent on
men for money and the way women repay their men is through emotional work. In
her highly influencing book titled The Second Shift (1989), she explains that
women not only complete their labor tasks during the day, but then when they return
home they have another shift of work to complete. Overall, women work more at
home in regards to household labor than men. She also takes the concept of second
shift a step further with third shift-the work that women put in with their children.
Women become more invested and more emotional towards their children then
males on a general basis and therefore, engage in more family work (Hochchild,
Blumer, Goffinan and Hochchild gave validity to this thesiss research.
They interviewed therapists (instead of the victims themselves) knowing that their
research would be valid and truthful because of the client/therapist relationship. We
can expect that the clients are disclosing their inner emotions and front stage
presentations to the therapist, and in turn the therapists can give accurate reports
during my interviews with them regarding clients sessions content.
Two of the areas that Blumer, Goffinan and Hochchild neglected to explore
were identity salience and identity commitment in reference to front stage and back
stage identities. However, there are a large percentage of symbolic interactionists,
in their research, that discuss these two concepts (identity salience and identity
commitment) as being responsible for an individuals identity. Stryker claims that
from identity theory commitment and salience are developed, and in turn from
salience role performance is shaped.
Commitment is an aspect of symbolic interactionism that discusses the
quantity of relationships in correlation to the investment level of the relationships.
It also addresses the thoughts related to why and how individuals are willing to
expand their relationships at the expense of discontinuing other relationships, and
consequently, creating different/new roles. Therefore, commitment studies and
explains social networks (Stryker, 1980). Burke and Stets conducted research for an
article titled Trust and Commitment through Self-Verification in 1999. This article
explains how trust and self-process create social order as a result of the influence
both trust and self-process have in respect to commitment. Stryker, Burke, and Stets
believe that there is an important cognitive aspect to commitment, but Burke and
Stets also address the emotional responses as well. The suggest the following: that
the process of establishing and maintaining self-verification contexts, and the
positive self-feelings that result, lead to the development of interpersonal or group
cohesiveness in the form of commitment, emotional attachment, and a collective
orientation (Burke, 1999). Self-verification is an important aspect of commitment
in that individuals will search to find others and particular situations that will
confirm their views of themselves through viewing the responses of others. This in
turn creates an identity and gives the individuals a reference of how to act in
following situations, and an internal reference on how to see themselves.
However, before discussing these concepts in more detail, Sheldon Stryker
and Richard Serpe in their research on religion in 1982 correlate and explain
through the hypothesis the relationship and the importance of salience and
commitment in the following seven hypotheses.
Hypothesis 1: The higher the commitment, the higher the identity salience.
Hypothesis 2: The higher the commitment, the higher the time spent in role.
Hypothesis 3: The higher the identity salience, the higher the time spent in role.
Hypothesis 4: The higher the commitment, the higher the religious satisfaction.
Hypothesis 5: The higher the identity salience, the higher the religious
Hypothesis 6: The higher the religious satisfaction, the higher the time spent in
Hypothesis 7: the presence of other roles (parental, spousal, worker) will be
inversely related to the salience of the religious identity (Stryker, 1980). What is
so applicable about their research, is that religiosity can be replaced by any other
concept and the hypothesis can still be tested in empirical research.
Peggy Thoits asserts in her research on identity and marital status, that
identity salience is the importance that a person places on a particular identity that
they possess (Thoits, 1992). Sheldon Stryker and Richard Serpe explain identity
salience further, while researching how identity salience and role behavior are
related specifically to religious affiliation in 1982. They include the idea that
identity salience is the way in which the different identities that create the
framework of the self are organized in a hierarchal manner. Meaning, the salience
of an identity is relevant to the probability that the hierarchy of that particular
identity will be applied in a situation (Stryker, 1982). The identity that an individual
would transform into or play out more readily in a social setting is a result of then-
individual identity hierarchy that is that individuals identity salience. If rewarded
by society or their personal goals were met the person is more likely to employ that
particular identity in a situation over another identity (Stryker, 1980). Identity
salience is one aspect of the individuals self, which is made up of many different
hierarchy identities. The individual then selects the most powerful and most well
developed identity (developed based on societies responses, symbols, and
expectations of the individual) to respond to work, relationships, and personal
desires (Stryker, 1994).
Within this research, this is a key element in studying the victimized self. I
will learn and explore the patterns related to the individual whose identity is
strongly correlated to a victimized identity. A goal of the research is to learn what
the rite of passage from the victims identity to the individual embracing a new
identity salience-empowerment. An article on sorority pledges reinforced the rite
of passage transition and their rite of passage meant transforming their identities
to be driven by symbols accepted by others (Arthur, 1997).
In summary of the basic theory of symbolic interactionism, Sheldon Stryker
in 1980 stated numerous hypotheses about symbolic interactionism regarding
commitment of an identity and identity salience. The summary of the entire seven
hypotheses created by Stryker is the more committed we are to the identity the more
positive the identity is assessed by others and ourselves. Also, the larger the social
network is in reinforcing the commitment to the identity, the greater the identity has
risen on the hierarchy of identities. Naturally, the higher the identity is on in the
individuals hierarchy, the more the role will be played within a social or individual
context. The individual will then seek out situations that they perceive to be
reinforcing the role and will put themselves in situations where the role must be
played out. This creates a very strong sense of normalcy with the persons actions
and their belief system (Stryker, 1980).
Trauma and Recovery (1992), written by Judith Herman a clinical
psychologist, and Victimized Daughter (1994), written by Janet Jacobs a
sociologist, are profound documentations of the process of treating and defining
victimization. Both books will be discussed and used as the foundation for the
literature review regarding victimization. Herman gathered (from a clinical
psychological background) her data from a womens mental health clinic and a
victims program. On the other hand, Jacobs studied the specific role of fathers
influencing the females sense of self as a result of research over a six year period
beginning in adolescent womens shelters in Colorado, and then researching support
Herman begins by revealing the dialectic of trauma. She speaks of the
conflict between denying the traumatic event and proclaiming the trauma aloud.
She is an advocate for trauma to be viewed not only as an individual symptom or
problem, but also as a societal phenomenon that needs to embrace healing through
the different stages of recovery. The stages, which are discussed later, are as
follows: establishing safety, reconstructing the trauma story, and restoring the
connection between survivors and their community (Herman, 1992, p. 3).
Hermans stages of recovery are used as a model to funnel the participants
responses into, which is incorporated into findings.
When studying the history of trauma, it is clear that this phenomena has been
an on and off again research topic and concern. The study of trauma has forced its
way in as a political movement in order to be respected in the social context of
trauma on three different occasions beginning with the study of female hysteria.
The first movement for studying trauma began in the nineteenth century with
Jean-Martin Charcot who was a French neurologist who began studying hysteria
that he called the Great Neurosis (Herman, 1992, p. 11). Charcot, because of his
neurological background paid sole attention to the related symptoms of hysteria,
such as the physical and mental attacks the women would suffer from if their
hysteria were prompted. He did not concern himself at all by the veibal content and
stories of his subjects.
In the mid 1890s, Janet and Freud emerged and developed the need for talk
therapy and allowed the unconscious to be discovered. Janet and Freud began to
disagree on the reasons for the development of their patients trauma, and after
devoting much time to the study of hysteria, Freud was unwilling to accept that
people were capable of doing the horrifying acts his patients and especially children
were disclosing. Consequently, Freud began to displace the blame from the
perpetrator to the victim. As a result, he began to normalize these incidents
(normalizing these incidents mean allowing and encouraging society to accept these
acts of abuse as a regular occurrence and an occurrence that should not disrupt
society or blame the perpetrator), by stating the abuse were secret desires of his
patients. Freud began to assert that the victim wanted and enjoyed the abuse that the
perpetrator inflicted, and was therefore able to minimize the severity of the abuse.
This resulted in normalizing the abuse and minimizing the traumatic event (Herman,
1992). An incident might have included incest between a father and a daughter.
Freud would have claimed that the daughter had sexual desires that included the
father and consequently the incest was not trauma or fault of the father, instead it
was the daughters normal desires being acted out with her father. Freud, then,
began to develop his theory further on the victims desire to be sexually violated,
which caused society to divert their attention away from the study of trauma, and
away from aiding the victimized population (Jacobs, 1994).
Herman reports that society was again alerted about trauma in 1918 when
studies were conducted on the symptoms of men returning from the war (the
symptoms were termed shell shock). The men were returning to their homes after
the war and were unable to sustain their relationships, they were having nightmares,
flashbacks, they were hallucinating, unable to control emotions, and had other
symptoms, which were later used to term post traumatic stress disorder. Societys
views on trauma were altered permanently when social sciences began to study the
trauma instilled on men returning from the First World War. Charles Myers, a
British psychologist began to take notice of ways men were acting upon returning
from war. He termed the disorder shell shock (Herman, 1992, p. 20), and evidently
explained this as psychological trauma. A physician named W. H. R. Rivers
supported treatment for these men but his goal was to return the damaged men to
battle and in conjunction with Freud minimized the trauma and the severity for
effective treatment. Evidently, minimization of a serious issue lead to yet another
societal decision to suppress the study of trauma.
Lastly, American society has been recently re-introduced to trauma this time
in relation to sexual and domestic abuse. During the womens liberation movement
in the 1970s, society began to realize that trauma was more prevalent in the
households (amongst the women) than of men returning from war or any other
societal positions. This awakening/movement (realizing that trauma is a frequent
and unfortunate occurrence both with men and women-mostly women) began with
by Betty Friedan and was termed consciousness-raising (Herman, 1992, p. 28).
Friedans goals were to change societys views regarding the act of sexual trauma
and not necessarily heal individuals trauma and symptoms. The outcome was
women began to define words like rape and concepts like trauma, and in turn
demand new societal responses to rape and abuse.
Judith Herman and Janet Jacobs (in Victimized Daughters^ both discuss the
symptoms that arise from the powerless nature of trauma and the terror that is
associated with it. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the diagnostic term
provided for individuals who fit the diagnostic criteria. The following are brief
descriptions of some of the symptoms used to diagnosis PTSD: The person
experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved
actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of
self or others, the persons response involved intense fear, helplessness, or
horror, recurrent and intrusive recollections of the event, including images,
thoughts, or perceptions, recurrent distressing dreams of the event, acting or
feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring..difficulty falling or staying
asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating (DSMV, 467-
468). Herman discusses that traumatic events overwhelm the ordinary human
adaptations to life (Herman, 1992, p. 33) and cause the victims to become
disconnected from their groundedness and consequently the trauma becomes then-
new life (Jacobs, 1994).
One of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder is a hyper arousal-
always expecting danger and therefore being on alert full time. Another symptom is
the intrusion of the event continuously being re-lived. Flashbacks occur as well as
nightmares and the victim becomes constantly focused on the traumatic event.
Because of the way the trauma affects a persons central nervous system, then-
memories of the events are similar to the memories of a child in that the traumatic
memories lack verbal narrative and context; rather, they are encoded in the form of
vivid sensations and images (Herman, 1992, p. 38). When the victim is constantly
re-living the trauma, they may attempt to recreate the trauma to gain control over
the traumatic event (Jacobs, 1994). The third and last severe symptom of PTSD is
constriction or numbing, which is when the consciousness is altered and the victim
enters a state of surrender-similar to hypnotic trance states (Herman, 1992, p. 43).
The victim has repressed memories and therefore is suffering from flashbacks,
sleep problems, and many other symptoms (Jacobs, 1994, p. 35). The individual
becomes detached from the event and is only able to observe and cope with the
traumatic event from outside their body. At this point the victim may attempt to
numb the discomfort with drugs or alcohol. Other symptoms of trauma: developing
an eating disorder to cope with the feeling of lack of control, self-mutilation,
suicidal tendencies, and other self-destructive behavior (Jacobs, 1994). The only
way to heal from these symptoms is to integrate the trauma with the victims life,
which will be discussed further later (Herman, 1992).
Disconnection or dissociate from oneself and the trauma, is a concept that
ties directly into identity theory, and is also an essential component of the interview
guideline used in this research. Herman states that when someone becomes
victimized the person, he/she then loses their basic sense of self and consequently
may dissociate (Herman, 1992, p. 52). One loses his/her sense of autonomy
(independence within relationships), and the individual is disconnected from his/her
community. Herman discusses the need for the community to help in the healing
process, because resilience occurs quicker in individuals who have support from
society and their social networks. In turn she asserts that the healing process will be
slower if the victimized person is alone in their recovery. Support from others
means the person will be prompted to discuss their traumatic event and receive
feedback on how to recharge their lives. They are able to hear stories of others who
have gone through similar experiences and have been able to move past the
traumatic experience. Through the connection of the community, the victimized
person can feel a sense of belonging, impact, and gain wisdom from others stories
and eventually their own story. If alone, feedback and encouragement are not
offered and the individual can, in turn, lose the ability to reconnect to society
Jacobs writes that the concept of disconnection or dissociating is a result of
the victim seeing her body as a representation of vulnerability. Unfortunately, the
need to disconnect from this sense of vulnerability creates a dissociated and
disconnected self, which in turn causes relief for the victim. Jacobs associates this
feeling as a leaving of the body in sorts (Jacobs, 1994).
Community is an important aspect in creating someones identity and is
important in helping someone heal and adopt new roles. This is an intense aspect
of the interview guideline. People who are already disconnected from society as a
result of victimization, and also have a sense of lack of power, are at the highest risk
for the inability to heal after a traumatic event. Herman states that this is because
the victim does not have the social reinforcement and support to recover from the
trauma or the connection with others to tell her story, which is an essential part in
the healing process (Herman, 1992). The effects of social support in the healing
process are essential. If the victims social network is unsupportive-meaning
hostile or negative (Herman, 1992, p. 61) the loss of self, which is already
diminished is threatened further. Unfortunately, sometimes the victim fails to
disclose the victimization in fear of societies rejection; they want to remain in
connection with society. The sense of self must be reestablished the way that it was
created-through relationship within society. Herman states the survivor needs the
help of others in rebuilding a positive view of the self (Herman, p. 1992, 63). They
need to feel a sense of control and a regain sense of autonomy, which is restored
more efficiently through the help of others (Herman, 1992). (Numerous questions
will be asked in my research regarding society and a sense of community in the
interview because of the clear need for societys involvement in the healing of
Herman then discusses the role of the community. The responsibility of the
community is to make public acknowledgment of the traumatic event and a form
of community action (Herman, p. 1992, 70). (This will be incorporated and
elaborated in the policy implications within the conclusion section, and interpreted
and suggestions will be disclosed on how to involve our community once results are
The other main concept about victim identity is the assertion that the victim
takes on the identity of the perpetrator. It is explained mostly by Jacobs, that the
reason they identify with the perpetrator is to maintain the idealization she created
for both her parents. Because the victim wants to understand why no one protected
her, she internalizes this lack of protection as her own fault and therefore preserves
her parents identity. Jacobs finds through her work as a sociologist, that most
victims gain an empathetic attachment to the perpetrator because the victim
strives to find fault in the assault. Without personal fault, the idealized father or
male that has caused the victimization would no longer be idealized, and that is a
concept that is not accepted by society nor the victim. The victim and society has
been taught by our political history to find the victim to be at fault instead of the
abuser and therefore the victim adopts the abusers affects and emotional states to
better attempt to understand and identify with the abuse (Jacobs, 1994, p. 76).
Janet Jacobs goes a step further to discuss specifically the daughters identity
in the traumatic event. She reports, Other survivors similarly reported that the
perpetrator referred to them as sluts and whores, constructing an identity of the
sinful women which justified the violation of the daughter (Jacobs, p. 1994, 49). In
reading this quote it is deducted that Jacobs believes the daughter will identify with
the role that is reinforced by her father because of societys pressure to conform to
the identity that father has created for daughter. Clearly, researchers and therapists
question how to break that identity, which was instilled in the daughter by the father
for so many years. Jacobs also asserts that the daughter takes on the role of the
perpetrators caregiver-mother-and intern the father is both the uncontested and
dominant sexual predator and the eternally beloved and cared-for son (Jacobs,
1994, p. 60). The victimized daughter can no longer understand the difference
between her emotions and her fathers emotions because of the perpetrators need for
both love and control. As a result the daughter has a sense of learned helplessness,
identifies herself as a sexual object, and has a lack of boundaries and is
unfortunately left as a confused and socially isolated victim at the mercy of the
perpetrator (Jacobs, 1994).
Jacobs also discusses minorities regarding religion as well as race minority.
Jacobs writes about the process of the victims using religious symbols of evil were
internalized as representations of the abuser, suggesting that they trauma of incest
may result in the demonization of the perpetrator (Jacobs, p. 1994, 38). Jacobs
discusses the different demon like characters that Jewish, Catholic, blacks and white
victims manifested into the perpetrators instead of dealing with their father or
whoever was causing the victimization. She also asserts the cultural differences
between white and black women and how abuse is more accepted in African
American culture because of peoples experiences of their upbringing in a racists
society. Jacobs states that an African American victim is less likely to seek help and
therefore heal, than a Caucasian Victim, because African Americans do not want to
increase their stigma within society (Jacobs, 1994).
The last issue that should be discussed here is the theory of healing and
change. The actual obtained state of empowerment and a creation of new social
connections and autonomy cause healing for the victim. Autonomy and
empowerment will be used throughout this thesis and therefore at this time both will
be operationalized. A definition of autonomy by Evan Startk and Anne Flitcraft,
discussed by Herman in Trauma and Recovery, is as follows: a sense of
separateness, flexibility, and self-possession sufficient to define ones self-
interest. and make significant choices. Empowerment is the convergence of
mutual support with individual autonomy (Herman, 1992, p. 134). Hermans
change model will be examined shortly and accepted as having more powerful
impact on the victims process through recovery because of its in-depth reporting
(Herman, 1992). Jacobs reinforces Hermans stages of recovery when she claims
that introspection is the first step to recovery for the victim followed by intense
emotions and action (Jacobs, 1994).
The first phase in the process of healing and change is developing safety,
secondly remembering and morning over the trauma, and lastly reconnecting. In
discussing gaining safety, the victim is encouraged through therapy to examine their
social support network and establish contacts. When the victim is able to have a
sense of safety, control the most severe symptoms, able to self-protect herself,
empower herself, and create autonomy she is able to move onto the next phase of
recovery: remembering and mourning (Herman, 1992).
At this point, Herman states that the victim is ready to integrate her story
into her life. The goal is to begin to report the story in its full imagery, the thoughts
and the feelings that are included or reconstruct the story. Next, to help the
individual integrate the story she is encouraged to transform her memory from a
memory filled with trauma and cognitive distortions to a more detailed description
of the traumatic event (Jacobs, 1994). Through mourning the event, the victim is
attempting to regain control over the event and separate her emotions from the
emotions of the perpetrator. She must begin to love herself but understand that she
does not need to love or forgive the perpetrator (Jacobs, 1994). The victim is
beginning to change her role and her identity. The indicators that the victim is ready
to move onto the next phase is when she no longer becomes anxious about telling
the story, her memory fades into other memories, and the trauma is no longer the
most essential aspect of her life. The last phase of recovery is reconnecting and
reclaiming (Herman, 1992).
Reconnecting and reclaiming are necessary steps to developing a new self
by reconnecting the past trauma to the present-ultimately creating a future. The
victim realizes that societys roles for women (a subordinate role) is an
inappropriate role to identify with if she plans to tend to the level of care needed to
provide herself to heal. She learns to share her story with others and does not feel
concerned or engage in destructive social relationships. This is where group work is
essential. The victim will gain solid healthy social relationships where she can
develop and trust her surroundings enough that she can disclose and form a health
relationship with herself and others (Herman, 1992).
Herman lists seven different criteria that she states needs to be obtain in
order to sufficiently heal from the trauma. These seven criterias (which will be
compared with the results section of my thesis and therefore explained in greater
length with the incorporated results) are: (1) obtaining limits to the PTSD, (2) can
handle PTSD with minimal problematic episodes, (3) has authority over the
memories, (4) the memories of the trauma are spoken and thought of with feelings,
(5) self-esteem is again obtained and improved, (6) relationships with self and
others are restored and established, (7) the PTSD is incorporated into the present.
Also, it is stated that survivors who have gone through the process of recovery
realize that they have depended, and need societies aid (Herman, 1992).
Bringing symbolic interactionism, identity theory, and the process of victim
identification will be discussed based on the participants responses during the result
section. As mentioned earlier, I am conducting a thesis that is strong in theory and I
am also fortunate to be studying the process of victimization-a field that is new and
very impacting on society.
In order to explore the questions: How therapists identify their clients as
victims, their change process, the process of integration of the traumatic event, and
the importance of the community in the healing process, I determined a field study
was the most effective way to obtain the information. To begin the inductive, and
exploratory research, I submitted a proposal to the Human research Committee at
the University of Colorado at Denver and to the Department Chair of Sociology to
conduct my research. On November 16, 2002,1 obtained approval for my research,
and began to locate participants for the study.
Since this research was approved for a one year maximum, I immediately
began to obtain participants for this study. I interviewed 9 therapists who treat
clients of different economic status patients and who prescribe to different types of
therapeutic approaches. I attempted to obtain a more or less representative sample
based on gender and race of therapists, which included more Caucasian females
than any other race-gender combination (i.e. African American, Latinos, and
Hispanics). I provided the participants a brief description of the study, the studies
purpose, the reason for this study, the volunteer nature of the research, and I then
addressed any questions or concerns they might have regarding this research. The
population for this research is therapists in Colorado with different theoretical
backgrounds, who have self-identified victims on their caseload who are specifically
in therapy to address their victimization. Due to a large population of therapists in
the community, this study used a snowball sampling technique in order to obtain
voluntary participants. The key informant was established through myself and then
each participant was asked if she or he could introduce the researcher to more
A field study was conducted utilizing an interview guideline to obtain in
depth interviews (see Appendix A). I called and invited all the participants to be a
part of this study. They were asked to participate in a face-to-face interview in a
location what was convenient for them. The goals of the open-ended questions were
to better understand the victimized self based on the theory of symbolic
interactionism. With all interviews, I asked additional questions, (some closed-
ended ones were asked for direct understanding) as the participants disclosed more
and the interview became more involved. In addition, all participants had questions
throughout the interview, which were answered by the interviewer. When asked
similar questions from different participants, 1 answered the questions in the same
manner for each participant, and also choose my probes carefully. During the
interview the participants were asked numerous different demographic questions
about themselves, their practice and their patients (see Appendix B). The gathered
information was examined for new and supported patterns that incorporate the
symbolic interactionism theory after the data was collected and analyzed. The
interviews lasted between 45 and 120 minutes, with an average length of 63
minutes, and all data were collected between the months of May through August
2003. Participants work situation ranged from outpatient to inpatient therapy, from
private patients to school social work, and from working in a midsize metropolitan
area to a small mountain community located in the western United States.
To establish validity, several different therapists and sociologist in the field
of symbolic interactionism and victims reviewed the questions. Also, individuals
who are knowledgeable about ethical issues were asked to review the proposal and
questions to help insure respect is being shown to the participants, and that there is
no element of harm in the interview guideline.
Since this research was approved for a one year maximum, I immediately
began to obtain participants for this study. I contacted them by snowballing/word of
mouth; the key informant was established through myself and then each participant
was asked if she or he could introduce the researcher to more respondents. 1
interviewed a total of 9 therapists who treat different economic status patients from
low to upper class, and who prescribe to different types of therapeutic approaches
which include: cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused therapy, behavior
modification, RET (rational emotive training), and assertiveness training. The
sampled participants included more Caucasian females than any other race-gender
combination (i.e. African American, Latinos, and Hispanics). Therefore, 8
participants (89%) were Caucasian males and females and 1 participant (11%) was
an African American female; seven participants (78%) were females and two
participants (22%) were males.
Of the nine study participants, eight (89%) were Caucasian males and
females and one participant (11%) was an African American female; seven
participants (78%) were females and two participants (22%) were males. The age of
participants ranged from mid 30s to late 60s-specific ages were not asked.
Educational degrees were asked in terms of What are your educational degrees?
The participants highest level of education ranged from a two participants (22%)
who have only a bachelors degree in psychology only; one participant (11%) has a
bachelors degree in psychology, is a certified addictions counselor level HI, is a
licensed practicing nurse, and is working on her masters in psychology; one
participant (11%) who has a masters in guidance and counseling K-12; and five
participants (56%) who has their masters in social work and in addition are licensed
clinical social workers. Three participants (33%) plan on furthering their education
in the human services field.
The range of length of time that the participants would work with a
particular client was four visits up to three years, the average time being thirty-six
weeks. Per week, the participants would see a range from six to thirty clients a
week, the average being twenty-one clients a week. Their open caseloads ranged
from fifteen to seventy clients, the average being thirty-four clients. In regards to
the participants clients social classes, they ranged from lower (homelessness) to
upper class, the average population being lower to middle social classes. With
regards to how much these therapists charged per hour, the ranges are from $40.00
per hour to $80.00 per hour, with 4 therapists not knowing what they charge because
they bill insurance. The average charge per hour between the participants who had
a set rate was $62.00 per hour. When asked about total number of years in the field
of human services, the range was five to twenty-thee years; the average years in the
field were eleven years. Three participants (33%) only treat voluntary clients, five
participants (56%) treat both voluntary and non-voluntary clients, and one
participant (11%) only treat non-voluntary clients. In reference to race of clients
these participants treated, all nine participants (100%) state that most of their clients
are Caucasian, than they treat on average 20% Hispanics and 20% African
Americans. Finally in regards to gender of their clients: six participants (67%) state
that the gender of their clients is on average female, one participant (11%) state that
the gender of their clients is both female and their children, and two participants
(22%) state that the gender of their clients are mostly males.
To gain data for this research, I designed an interview guideline consisting
of 4 sections (back ground questions; identity formation of a victim; victims change
process; personal career related questions for the therapists), and 57 initial questions
(see Appendix A). The questions began with demographic questions, and then dove
into questions such as victims relationships, and community involvement.
Participants were allowed as much time needed to answer the questions and, and
probes were used to gain additional information.
I provided the participants a brief description of the study, the studies
purpose, the reason for this study, the volunteer nature of the research, and I then
addressed any questions or concerns regarding this research. The population for this
research are therapists in Colorado with different theoretical backgrounds, who have
self-identified victims on their caseload who are specifically in therapy to address
their victimization. Each participant was given a copy of the purpose of the study as
well as the intent and expectations if desired. All were given the name and number
of the chair of this thesis research in case of questions or concerns. Once in
acceptance of participating in the study, the participants were asked to sign a
consent form. The information was recorded in such a manner that no individual
patient or therapist will be identifiable. Detailed analysis of the results took months
to complete. Detailed analysis consisted of reviewing the transcripts and field notes
numerous times myself and with my thesis committee. All material gathered from
the participants were kept in a safe, confidential location and will be kept for five
The interview was conducted using an interview guideline. This gave the
researcher a common formation for which to conduct each interview, and allowed
for flexibility and questions if needed. (See Appendix A.) The participants were
told that the study is being done in order to gain a better understanding of the
victimized self, help understand the process of victimization, the self-identity of a
victim, the process of change, and the relationship between healing and the
community. Each respondent was given a consent form to read and sign once they
voluntarily agreed to the study, and then they agreed to be taped recorded. Each
respondent was given a number to serve as an identification code and a factitious
name. A record of the respondents name, their identification number, their phone
number, their address, the date of the interview, the duration of the interview, and
the location of the interview are kept by the researcher in a private file. The
transcriptions of the interviews only contain identification numbers, and the
audiotapes will be labeled with the matching numbers. Analyses and final reports of
the data do not contain any names or places that could possibly cause the
participants to be identified. All information pertaining to the study is kept by this
researcher in a secure private place. Only this researcher and the faculty advisor
have access to these data. This researcher has and will keep everything that relates
to this study privately and confidentially for five years after the completion of the
study. Field notes of the respondents facial expressions, body posture, affects, and
visual emotions were taken after the interview. The interview itself was audio
taped, with the consent of the respondent, which allowed for full and undivided
attention to be given to the respondents during the interview. However, this
researcher did take notes throughout each interview. Only this researcher has had
access to the tapes, and also transcribed them as soon as possible after the interview-
I organized their responses based on trends and themes, which began to seep
out of the data, while it was reviewed and studied. Patterns that emerged from the
participants comments to the interview guideline are found in the following section.
Every therapist interviewed permitted a glimpse into the life of someone
who has been victimized. Their knowledge and commitment to helping others was
directly seen through the interviews. As mentioned in the literature review, Blumer,
Goffinan and Hochchild also interviewed therapists because they knew that their
research would be valid and accepted because of the trustworthy client/therapist
relationship. They, as well as myself expect that they clients are disclosing their
inner/firont stage emotions and thoughts, and therefore the therapists can give correct
accounts of the sessions material. All interviews gave insight into how a
victimized person appears throughout treatment, the therapists goals for treatment,
and what struggles they face throughout the process.
The most interesting and relevant themes that emerged were about the
various definitions of victims and trauma, the importance of group work and/or the
community involvement in the process of treatment, the stigma (front stage verses
back stage appearances) forced on victims, the impact and evidence of
disassociation with this population, and the range of ways in which identity and
victimization relate to each other (to include identity salience and commitment).
As written earlier, the purpose of this study is to explore how (1) therapists
and victims identify themselves as victims, (2) their change process, (3) the process
of integration of the traumatic event, (4) and the importance of the community in the
healing process. Guided by symbolic interactionism, I asked questions to therapists
about their experience dealing with patients who self-identify themselves victims,
which helped understand the victimized self.
Before discussing the themes that emerged from this research, the following
section details each of the participants of this study.
Bob has a master in social work and is a licensed social worker in Colorado.
He has been working in the counseling field for 20 years, uses primarily behavior
modification, and does not plan on furthering his education. Currently, he considers
himself as a case manager, therapist, a clinical director for problem cases, and an
Daria has bachelors in psychology, a nursing degree, and is a certified
addiction counselor level m. She has been working in the counseling field for 13
years and her therapeutic method of choice is cognitive-behavioral therapy. She
works with outpatient therapists, and plans on enrolling in a master of psychology
Kara has a bachelors degree in psychology. She has been in the counseling
field for 7 years and currently working to develop policy and procedure for victim
right amendments and the sheriffs department for compliance regarding
supervision and responding to violent call. She focuses her treatment on triage and
following up with clients she obtains from riding along during sheriff calls.
Luke has a bachelors degree in general studies and wants to earn masters in
human services. He has been working in the field for 5 XA years and believes his
therapeutic method of choice is relationship model. He considers himself a
counselor and case manager, and works with outpatient clients.
Lynn has a master in guidance counseling K-12, and has been working in the
school-counseling field for 9 years. She is not sure what her therapeutic method of
choice is-but enjoys building rapport with kids through activities, and does not plan
on furthering her education.
Pam has a master in social work and is a licensed social worker in Colorado.
She has been working in the counseling field for 12 years and counsels couples,
families, individuals, does play therapy with children, grief support groups, and
parenting groups. Her therapeutic method of choice is solution focused therapy and
does not plan on furthering her education.
Sue has a master in social work and is a licensed social worker in Colorado.
She has been working in the counseling field for 12 years and believes her specialty
is solution focused, but has also been trained in psychodynamics, behavioral
modification, and social learning theory. At the time of the interview, she was a
clinical coordinator, conducts outpatient therapy, coordinates a foster care program,
and does mental health plus sexual abuse survival treatment groups with paroles.
Definition of a Victim
Two very different trends associated with the answer to the following
question, What is your definition of a victim? arouse, when asked to therapists,
and can be broken down into two sections. The first trend recorded correlated being
a victim to not accepting responsibility for their actions or lifestyle-they have
chosen at some level to pursue and therefore, continues to remain in a victimized
lifestyle. This trend exposes victims as individuals who have internally chosen this
for themselves. Examples of some of the answers that included this trend in their
answer are as follows:
Someone, who does not take responsibility for the path of where their life is
going in treatment. Daria
... one of the things I think of when being a victim is not taking
responsibility for your own life and what happens to you, um and not
necessarily taking responsibility for your own actions.. .they have been
victimized and then there is just a certain pattern that comes along with that,
that they get very used to living. Pam
The second trend describes victims as someone who has had their
boundaries violated without their permission; a victim is viewed as someone that
had something external affect them. These therapists, do not discriminate against
types of abuse (they include all forms-sexual, physical, mental, spiritual abuse), and
include the concept of crime instead of simply self-inflicted as viewed in the first
group. Examples of this trend in their own words are as follows:
I see victims in just about everybody in someway or another. Bob
... a victim is someone... crimes against person. Kara
... anybody who has been put at risk by anyone else. Luke
Probably a person that was violated and something happened to them that
they did not give permission to have happen to them. Boundaries were
broken and trust was broken. Lynn
To me a victim is a person who has been harmed in a very significant way
emotionally, physically, sexually, or catastrophic events in general in the
world. But a person who does not have a lot of power over that or even
much of a self-concept to get through a victimization. Sue
This last quote regarding self-concept brings up the next topic that should be
discussed-how therapists perceive victims who identify themselves as a victim.
Identifying Self as a Victim
The question I asked the therapists was: How does someone go through the
process of identifying himself or herself as a victim? This question was based
directly from the concept derived from George Herbert Mead, which states that
symbols establish our society, and that ones own seifs society is an ongoing
process. I assert that with the help of therapists, victims can learn to identify
themselves as a victim and learn how to change their concept of self in the future.
As Meads states: the self is derived from the ability to have insight to review ones
past behaviors, and observe symbols that will feed into our minds and create future
behaviors (Meads, 1934). Therapists can help the victim be aware of past behaviors
and learn about how to affect their future behaviors.
The following are some of the answers from therapists about how they
perceive individuals identify themselves as victims:
You could tell by, just by, by watching them and looking at them (who is a
victim).. .but whether they call themselves a victim, I dont think they
necessarily do until somebody puts those words in their mouth actually. Bob
Its probably different between a car accident you wouldnt have a choice (to
perceive self as a victim) so it would probably be a much more quicker
process but its, if it was something more like a child, if you were abused as a
child, then it would be a long drawn out process in coming to terms with that
and identifying yourself as a victim. Daria
Thinking of you as a victim... as a way of avoiding the consequences... Luke
What is the process in their mind? They dont take a lot of responsibilities.
They always accept what happens and does not feel that they can do
anything about it. Lynn
I say that it its hard to have happen on your own, without someone else
helping you. Pam
I think that most survivors that Ive worked with have felt that they were
victims the whole time.. .hopefully not at the end, but sometimes its hard to
tell because I think that they continue to feel vulnerable and traumatized and
not always in control of their own emotions and I think that that can lead you
to feel like a victim. Sue
It appears that the therapists felt that to be perceived as a victim one must
feel a lack of responsibility to self plus others and/or lack of control over their own
actions and consequences. It is also interesting that Pam asserts that it is hard to
become a victim alone; someone or something outside of oneself encourages the
process of victimization.
Interpersonal Relationships and Community Involvement in Relation to
Expecting, based on theory, to hear the therapist mention others
involvement in the process of self-identifying oneself as a victim, I asked questions
associated with the community and other interpersonal relationships and how that
affects their process of self-identification.
Symbolic Interactionism is concerned with the relationship between the self
and society; being aware of our behavior is important, but also we must be aware of
how other peoples behaviors create symbols that ultimately creates our society
(Stryker, 1980). Taking this concepts a bit further, I attempted to incorporate the
basic principles of commitment theory into the questions. Commitment theory
discusses the quantity of relationships in correlation to the investment level of the
relationships. It addresses why individuals give value to some relationships and not
others, and why and how they create new relationships (Stryker, 1980). Judith
Herman and Janet Jacobs (in Victimized Daughters! state that the healing process is
slower if a victim is alone in his/her recovery process. If they receive support from
others, they will be encouraged to talk about and in turn hear their story through
feedback. Also, with support from others, they are hearing others stories who have
gone through similar events. Being open about their traumatic event, gives them a
sense of belonging, and a re-connection with society is formed (Herman, 1992).
Herman states the survivor needs the help of others in rebuilding a positive view of
the self (Herman, 1992, p. 63). The following questions were asked with hopes
that the therapists would be able to perceive how relationships (interpersonal and
community based) impacted the victimized-self:
How do their interpersonal relationships affect that process (identifying
themselves as a victim)?
Somebody identifies themselves as a victim is if their relationships call them
that. They dont take personal responsibility, they blame others, they want
others to do things for them. Daria
.. .the world is singling them out.. they are picking relationships that make
them reinforce that they have no control over their lives or able to change
Generally they are going to seek out in their interpersonal relationships that
dont confront their thinking error of being a victim. They arent going to
seek out people who help them get past that. Luke
They have had relationships with significant others and adults and authority
figures that have betrayed them in very significant ways so they usually
search out similar situations that continue to re-victimize them. Sue
Relationships appear to be a struggle for victims, as reported by the
therapists, because either they are blaming others (not taking ownership of their
lives), or the victims continue through the cycle of victimization with their current
Another question associated with victims relationship with society is:
How do you change their established role from being committed in society as a
victim to being committed in society as an empowered individual? The following
are some of the responses:
Help them look at where they would like to be and where they are at now.
Help them build skills to cope with life and cope with getting to a new place.
Help them know how they can take care of themselves throughout the day,
when they get home, how they can take care of themselves right
now.. .always thinking about where they would like to be in life; visualize
where they could be right now if they wanted to. Lynn
Challenge their thoughts; what they say about themselves and others. Daria
Um, really just helping them think about new roles with themselves that
perhaps they havent even thought of before. Pam
Well, I think there are a lot of pieces that go into it. I think that support is
crucial and even if that just comes from the therapist-not from anybody in
the family-but in order to do anything there must be at least one person who
believes in them and supports them. And then I think just getting through
basic rituals of life-graduating from high school, getting a GED, getting a
job and holding that job, getting an apartment and not losing it-just those
very basic things that arent always modeled for them. Getting those and
keeping those can help. Sue
Self-verification is an important aspect of commitment in that individuals will
search to find others and particular situations that will confirm their views of
themselves through viewing the responses of others. This in turn creates an identity
and gives the individual a reference of how to act in following situations, and an
internal reference on how to see themselves (Burke, 1999).
Theories related to symbolic interactionism all agree that the self changes as
a result of how others view them. Therefore, I was interested in what language (i.e.
victim versus survivor) do the therapists use when interacting with their victimized
patients. The specific question that was asked is as follows: What vocabulary do
you use when speaking to the victimized patient about their process?
I use their words.. whatever they identify with. If you use your vernacular
or you use your vernacular or you use the professional jargon and stuff its
another form of labeling, really in my mind, and I think it becomes
something that they dont relate to very well anyways. It makes them seem
like they feel like they are set apart or whatever. Bob
I would probably say survivor. Daria
I use the word victim because it is a legal term, not judgmental. Kara
I probably tend to use more confrontational terms to the point of making
them anxious and angry so they are not as comfortable using those terms.
So the vocabulary that I usually use.. .1 may use the same words they use but
in different tones and in the forms of comparisons to get them to look
outside themselves. Luke
I use the word resilient. I want to teach the survivors that life doesnt end
after a traumatic event-they can move on with their lives. Lynn
Never victim. I present things in that they are in the process of healing. Sol
think a very positive outlook on their future is what I try to give them when I
talk and with the words that I use. Sue
The thought that humans are performers was shaped by Erving Goffinan
(Adams, 2002, p. 173). I wanted to use this idea and apply it to victims and their
support groups; how they present and appear to others with the plan that others will
buy into the self that they are presented. The following questions were asked to
learn the connection between being a victim and their relationship with support
Of all the individuals that they know through their support group, how many do
you believe are important to them-that is, they would really miss them if they did
not see them?
Probably one or two. Daria
I dont really know numbers, but I know to the people that I referred there
that the support group is very important. They attend regularly and would
very much miss it if they could not attend-I know some who plan then-
vacation and such around their support groups. Kara
Out of everyone involved with their support-not that many-maybe 1-3. But
they would really miss them-they are key to them and their process of
I think a very low percentage. I dont know many people that have gone to
support groups and stuck with it long enough to develop relationships with
other people. 1 dont have a healthy population of clients who have
connected.. the people that I have worked with have an extreme problem
already with connecting. And so unfortunately I dont know anyone who
have had a really successful or positive experiences. Sue
Think of those other victims that are important to the clients through the support
groups. About how many would they lose contact with if they did not do the victim
All of them. Daria
Probably a large share of them, Id say, other than maybe 1 or 2. Kara
All but 1 to 3. Lynn
All of them. Sue
Of the people they know through the support group, how many do they know on a
first name basis?
Maybe 1 or 2. Daria
1 or 2. Lynn
Maybe up to 6. Pam
Probably half. I think that they tune into some people that are interesting or
that they can identify in some way with. And I think that they have limited
interest and energy in each other. Sue
Think about your clients meeting people for the first time. They want to tell them
about themselves so theyll really know them, but they can only tell them one thing
about themselves. Of the following (their occupation, being a husband or wife,
being a parent, being a victim or survivor, or none of these), which would they tell
them (first, next, next)?
I would have to say being a victim, then being a wife, then parent, then
I think that addressing themselves as a victim is a very small percentage.
Probably more as their life as a parent or spouse. And then theres people
that have been in severe situations. Than they address themselves as a
victims because it is the majority of what is going on in their lives-the
biggest thing is being victimized. Kara
Probably describe themselves as a victim, then probably employment
because I work with juveniles. Luke
This I think depends on their stage of change-whether victim or survivor
stage in their lives. If they are in the victim stage, they probably would
mention that they are victims soon in the meeting of the person. If they are
not thinking they are victim then it wouldnt be mentioned. Lynn
You know, I would have to say that there are some that would talk about the
victim survivor stuffy then maybe about their family. Pam
Probably being a parent of those that you listed. With some people, I think
that they would say-Im on parole before they would say anything else
because that is their identity and they have been taught to take responsibility
and accountability. Definitely not education, because most of my clients do
not have a high education, and not jobs that they are invested in because they
do not have jobs that they are invested in. I think that being a wife would
not necessarily be that big-it would really be more of a parent piece. I think
also it is because it is an area that they feel like they have accomplished
something. Even if they have not parented their kids very long, the act of
having their child is an accomplishment. Sue
Suppose it were a weekend and they had to choice to do the following things (go to
a victim/survivor support group, go on an outing with their children, catch up on
work, spend time with husband or wife, or none of these). Which would they most
likely do? Next? Next?
Probably spending time with the husband or wife-last support group. Daria
I think that addressing themselves as a victim is a very small percentage.
Probably more as their life as a parent or spouse. And then theres people
that have been in severe situations. Than they address themselves as a
victim because it is the majority of what is going on in thief lives-the biggest
thing is being victimized. Kara
Either it would be none of these, or substitute the children and wives or
husbands with their peer group. And then hanging out with families. Luke
Spend time with friends, then maybe family. Lynn
You know 1 would have to say that there are some that would talk about the
victim survivor stuff. Next um, talk about their family. Pam
1 would have to say none. I would like to say spend time with their kids, but
I would have to say really if they had nothing planned, I think that they
would try to nurture themselves, do something for themselves in a very
adolescent way. Me, Me, Me, Me kinda way. Because a lot of survivors
that I see are very stuck-still in adolescents, so it is still very much so about
Within this past section regarding interpersonal relationships and community
involvement, it was interesting to discover that despite the importance that the
therapists place on support groups and in turn the recover process, only 1-2
members of the support group would be missed or kept in contact with by the victim
if he/she were not in attendance of these groups. When a meeting people in the
community, therapists had different views on how the victim would present himself
or herself. Some therapists mentioned he/she would report being a victim because
that is the most defining part of them at that moment, but Lynn states that it depends
on the stage of change that the victim is in at the moment.
A Victims Change Process
The effect of social support in the change process is essential, but what does
a change process look like for the victimized self. As detailed in the literature
review, Jacobs asserts that the stages of change include introspection, intense
emotions and action (Jacobs, 1994). Herman specifies the stages in more detail:
developing safety (learn of social networks and develop contact support),
remembering and morning over the trauma (integrating the trauma into their
lives/changing her identity), and reconnecting (reclaiming their selves and creating a
future) (Herman, 1992). The following section will be based on the change process
in relation to the victimized self:
Explain the pace and process of change?
The change process is extremely slow. And I think thats why they get so
disenfranchised. What I also think is that once that change happens they
hold on to it too. They dont let it go. Bob
I would say the pace, over all is probably fairly slow. The pace and the
process would be I guess starting where they are at now, I mean not
continually focusing on what has happened that they perceive that has made
them a victim, and starting where they are at. 1 guess the process is getting
them to identify with something other than being a victim. Daria
.. what you have is people struggling with wounded families, and finances,
drug and alcohol issues, un-addressed mental health issues. So, a lot of
times at that end the pace can be really good because youve got someone
thats really a customer to change because they are like oh my god we really
are falling apart. The less serious end of the continuum, change moves
faster. It seems like on the more serious end of the continuum, theres a less
customer to change-the victim is trying harder than the perpetrator on that
It is slow and steady-very individualized and it cannot be hurried. The
process of change changes. They need to live and be active to change and to
be able to discover new things. Lynn
Slow, slow, slow. Well because I think that most people are reluctant to
change.. .me included and making behavior and attitudinal changes is a very
hard process. And I think people can make changes very quickly and then
they dont last and so what I try to do is educate people about the process of
change because a lot people just want to feel better fast and sometimes it has
to hurt more a little bit before it feels better. Sue
What signs are there available that the individual is ready to wok on their issues?
When they have a support system.. if they start doing my job, basically,
they come in its my job to do the certain things to keep them safe. When
they start doing that themselves.. .theyre where we want them to be. Bob
They ask more questions about change. About what it is that they need to
do. I guess just taking more responsibility. Daria
I think that when they can express what they need.. they need to find out
what is their goal and sort through things. Lynn
When theyre not avoiding it. Pam
I usually go through kinda a PTSD checklist, because if people are suffering
from symptoms like nightmares of flashbacks or avoidance-then you have to
know that and just go slower. And help them to deal with those and help
them to ground and develop coping skills. Sue
What signs are there that the individual is going through the process of change?
That they are making the choices and theyre doing it instead of us doing it.
I would say that in the beginning an awareness, a grieving, as far as tears,
there maybe anger, those kinds of things, and then coming to the point where
they want to do something about it, take action. Daria
When they come and talk outside of their regular times or come early or
hang out. They begin recognizing their thinking errors to avoid confronting
their issues. They start taking accountability in their language. Luke
They usually are good at letting me know how they feel better about things.
Theyre talking about it-what we talk about in therapy. If I give them
reading or homework to do theyre doing it. Theyre not avoiding, theyre
eager to come to sessions and theyre really just doing their work. Pam
Often a lot of pain and self-doubt because they are venturing into new areas
that they are unsure about. Some fear. Sometimes regression-short term
regression ideally. But the process of moving forward has a lot of steps
back. But the fact that they are moving at all it progress. Sue
How do their relationships change with themselves and interpersonal
I think they become more important to themselves. Daria
They are able to look back and have some insight. Kara
... when the kid looks from where they came from they feel like the
relationships strengthen. Luke
.. yeah, all more positive. Pam
I see them become more assertive. Sometimes it presents as aggressiveness.
But it is better than passiveness. Sue
How do you monitor change? Through what indicators?
I guess by their actions... if they do what they say they are going to do... if
they continue to seek out support. Daria
So you can hear it from other community agencies that theyre present and
accounted for, and that theyre following through with their treatment plans
and changing. Kara
They are asserting their needs, they are being able to set up and secure their
boundaries, they can take on different perspectives, they use different
language to talk about themselves, they take care of themselves and others
needs. They can tell what they need from each other. Lynn
Um, well really in large part what the client brings to me. What the client
told me they have done in regards to change. Pam
How do you, if you do, encourage the victim to integrate her trauma with her
Well, I think, I think you have to. I mean I dont think that that stuff ever
gets resolved entirely. Um, and I think that like I said earlier, I think that
part of what you have to do is, is they have that trauma organized in their life
to a significant degree is hindering them. So how to they take it down, take
a look at it, deal with it, organize it in a different way, and put it back on the
self so that they can continue with their lives. Bob
If at all it would be to learn from that trauma, learn from the past, and just
move on. I wouldnt stay focused on it, but.. .you know I dont ever say
forget where you came from or what happened. .but just.. take from that
what you can and learn. Daria
... we encourage them to think what are you modeling here. They do try to
keep it separate-like its this random thing that happens that doesnt have a
connection and its only because of this intricate set of circumstances that
will never happen again. Kara
I dont. (But he did mention he would refer out for that treatment.) Luke
.. .1 guess what I think of when you ask me that question is, sometimes what
Ill tell people when we do solution focused therapy is that our therapy
process is not about getting into a lot of past stuff, it is really affecting who
you are and what you do today. And if that be the case, then maybe some
integration is needed and reframing of things. Reframing, you know I
believe that out of every experience we have there is always a way we can
reframe it and find a strength. Pam
I think in order to integrate in a healthy way we need to get away from
considering themselves as either a victim or a survivor. Because when you
identify themselves as either one that is the biggest part of who you are the
goal of therapy is to make it a smaller part of who you are and build the
healthier parts. And so getting away from the label I think is important. Sue
Overall the therapists responses regarding a victims change process were
similar to one another. The process of change is slow and the individual has to be
very invested in changing to last throughout the difficult process. The therapists
state that when the victim begins to express his/her needs, establish a support
system, ask questions about the self and the change process, and have less PTSD
symptoms than he/she is ready to work on the victimization. Although the
therapists had different indicators to decide when the victim is going through the
process of change, they all gave similar answers that described the victim as gaining
independent thought, having awareness, taking accountability of self, and
experiencing uncomfortable feelings, which indicates change. Relationships that
the victim involves his/herself with do become more positive once the victim has
embraced the change process and has gained insight into past plus current
behaviors. Lastly, integrating trauma is stated to be very important to therapists and
their victim clients. Therapists want the victim to learn from the event that
traumatized them and find strength in the situation and within the self, and then
encourage the victim to move past the traumatic event and labels.
Disassociation and Autonomy
Herman states that victimization causes someone to lose him or herself,
which can cause disassociation. What follows, is they lose their sense of autonomy
when they lose their sense of self (Herman, 1992). Jacobs states that the reason a
victim disassociates is because she or he views their body as vulnerable (Jacobs,
1994). I wanted to ask about both disassociation and autonomy-not in relation to
each other, but how they affect the identity of the victimized person.
Tell me about the relationship between disassociating and victimization for your
I think the more they can disassociate the longer they stay a victim. Daria
Its very common and thats part of crisis intervention, the sooner we see the
victim to the actual minute, thats when theyre the most honest, and have
less of the walls up. Kara
I have probably experienced it.. but am not aware of it. Luke
When someone gets victimized or traumatized, there will be a state where
the student/patient will shut down, not experience life-I see that a lot. The
kids that have a history of abuse have a really tough time finding themselves
as individuals or as a group. Lynn
.. Its like an avoidance, refocusing thing, but more of an avoidance than
A huge one. But I think that most survivors have periods in their days or
week where they disassociate. And so we do work on grounding techniques.
How do you promote autonomy?
You know having them figure out who they are...find out that they do have
interests and that they have that are separate from someone else. Daria
Basically having them study their goals, their wishes, their wants. Luke
Trying to listen to them. Trying to understand why they do what they do.
Give them the change to have freedom of expression and being able to have
their own thoughts and accept them for where they are right now. Lynn
Just making them think about the impact of their live, with certain situations.
I think first we focus on the fact that the survivor has the right to feel what
they feel and think what they think. And then we work a lot on decision
making.. but to really focus on taking care of their selves. Sue
Disassociation occurs and delays the process of change from victim to
survivor, and the therapists assert that the victim cannot recover until they have
stopped disassociating. Autonomy is extremely important to the change process and
to promote it the therapist will work with the victim to explore his/her goals and
interests, learning to care for themselves, create own thoughts, and empower the
victim to know they have the right to their own thoughts and feelings.
CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION
This research is not meant to be generalized to all individuals suffering from
victimization. However, the research is meant to challenge societys current
methods of treating plus supporting victims, and develop a better understanding of
the development of the victimized self so social scientists can better address this
Interviewing therapists in an attempt to learn how people can view
themselves as victims, how they are able to change themselves, and in what ways
the community aids in integrating the victim with the healing process created a very
interesting study. As a result of the interviews several essential themes emerged and
will guide future research, which will be discussed later. I was astounded about the
diversity of responses when I asked the participants a straightforward question:
What is your definition of a victim? The responses ranged from placing the
blame on the victim and in turn asserting that the victim is not taking responsibility
for their actions (Someone, who does not take responsibility for the path of where
their life is going in treatment.) to legal terms regarding crimes against someone
(...anybody who has been put at risk by anyone else ). It concerns me that these
therapists, with such different views of a victim, are working with the same
population. I was expecting to hear therapists using a general definition that could
be generalized to the population of victims. Therapists agreeing on a general
definition would benefit societys overall treatment and attitudes of victims.
In the findings section, I made the assertion that therapists help victims learn
to identify themselves as a victim and learn how to change their self-concept; also
supported in the literature review. When asking the question: How does someone
go through the process of identifying himself or herself as a victim? I was given
very diverse responses to the question. Again a theme of not taking responsibility
for their actions arouse (Thinking of you as a victim... as a way of avoiding the
consequences..but also arouse was a theme which was more nurturing and
supportive of trauma and places the blame away from the victim (I say that it its
hard to have happen on your own, without someone else helping you ).
I began this research viewing victims as someone who has been traumatized
by someone or an event. However, I soon was hearing, from the therapists, that
many view victims as individuals who are not taking responsibility for their lives
and in turn allowing themselves to be traumatized. I never thought of victim as a
pleasant term, but was quick to find that the term has a very negative stigma to it
that symbolizes irresponsibility and laziness for their own well-being resulting in
Another important theme was empowerment. Therapists talked about
empowerment and being a survivor in the responses to several questions such as:
How do their interpersonal relationships affect that process (identifying themselves
as a victim)?, How do you change their established role from being committed in
society as a victim to being committed in society as an empowered individual?, and
What vocabulary do you use when speaking to the victimized patient about their
process?. The therapists appeared to have an honest desire to change the lives of
these victims and therefore break through their cycle of self-victimization through
schooling, self-awareness techniques, changing employment, and new housing
locations. I thought that this related itself very well to the concept of self-
verification as defined by Burke, which discusses ways in which an identity is
formed and changed to interact in certain situations (Burke, 1999).
The community involvement and support proved so valuable in this
research. Through Hermans book, the connection between re-connecting the
society and a sense of belonging is a vast element in the change process, and is
supported by this research (Herman, 1992). When asked about How do their
interpersonal relationships afreet that process (identifying themselves as a victim)?
and How do you change their established role from being committed in society as a
victim to being committed in society as an empowered individual? the responses
weighted heavily towards needing positive social support were the victim can be re-
connected and supported by society. I found this subject to be especially exciting to
learn and listen to because at this point all the therapists, despite their different
definitions of a victim, had the same goal-to help their victim clients gain a safe and
productive role with society.
The pace of change is slow, according to the therapists, which appears to
give them time to learn what their victims needs are and gives them time to
encourage the client to tell their story of being a victim and develop autonomy.
Learning about victims and the change process is so important because we
are in a culture that is constantly creating more victims by traumatic events. 1
believe that it is important that therapists agree on a standard definition of what is a
victim-the DSMIV has created a definition, but it apparently is not observed by all
therapists. The change process has some defined markers established also by the
DSMTV and by numerous books on victims, but many therapists in this study do not
observe the markers developed by the DSMTV.
Based on the research conducted before this study, I was prepared to learn
about how much society and the community impacts change. The therapists all
agreed about the significance of and discussed the impact of their significant others,
the impact of support groups, community involvement as a whole in the labeling
and treatment of a victim.
This study will bring to light the victimized self in relationship to symbolic
interactionism. Once this has been established more research will be powerful and
may include policy implications for the treatment of victims. Future research ideas
that can be derived from this work could go into two main directions. One direction
is towards a more sociological perspective versus a psychological perspective.
Focusing on a sociological perspective, it would also be very interesting to learn
how variables such as family relationships, economic background, ethnicity, age,
marital status, and health relate to the impact/process of someone identifying
themselves as a victim and the process of change for them. Learning more about the
therapists background, continued education, social groups that they attend, and how
those variables impacts their attitudes and treatment towards victims could be an
interesting perspective on the treatment of victims. Lastly, examining the
therapists case load in addition to their rate per hour could give insight into their
perspectives towards victims; how long on average a client stays in treatment, how
often they meet with their clients, do they offer support by phone after hours, and
other questions that would be related to the availability of the therapists.
Another direction that future research could take, which will delve further
into the psychological perspective, is examining further some of the questions.
There were very interesting responses to questions like: Do you ever notice that
the victim is identifying and merging herself and her emotions with the perpetrators
emotions? How did you deal with that? How do you help the victim mom over lost
identity and the perpetrators identity? Tell me about the relationship between
disassociating and victimization for your patients? During the change process, do
you observe a pattern of victims identification with spirituality? How important is
trust in the process? Do you believe that self-disclosure is effective? Most of the
questions could be examined in more depth and explored further to learn more about
the change process and change markers.
Combining both sociological and psychological perspectives, directly asking
participants who view themselves as victim, instead of going through the therapists,
would be a wealth of information. The exact same questions could be asked,
directly to the victims, and the responses would be fascinating to analyze alone or in
direct correlation with this research findings. Overall, future research could aim
towards a social-psychology perspective and analyze questions in more detail, or
continue on the sociology path and learn how these findings will and are impacting
In general, policy implications specifically related to the community should
be established to create a forum that recognizes the traumatic events and takes an
assertive action, (with support from the community), to embrace the victims and
alter the events or situations that are causing the trauma.
Strengths and Limitations
Qualitative studies have obvious strengths and weaknesses that should be
addressed. To be in compliance with the Human Subject Committee, while learning
about victims, I had to interview the therapists who worked with self-identified
victims-instead of the victims themselves. As will all field studies, reliability is
expected to be low since participants are asking to recall most of the information
disclosed (using reconstructive memory), and in this study because the participants
are asked to use their personal clinical skills to assess the themes of their victimized
patients. The criticism, assumed will be directed at the participants employing
reconstructive memory and using their assessment skills throughout the majority of
the interview-again the criticism is mainly attacking reliability. This is criticism
that cannot be ignored nor is ignored in this study. The interview guideline
consisted of questions that required the participants to answer with responses that
have a positive correlation to responses earlier in the study, which encourages
reliability. Therefore, despite interviewing therapists instead of victims, the
numerous research questions, and the valuable information I gained translated into a
valid, well-thought out study that can help stimulate future research. However,
another reason why reliability will be is low is the same reason that validity will be
high-all questions will be open-ended. Another weakness is evident in the 9
participant sample size; again the in depth interviews provides substantial findings
that can be generalized to the victim population.
The strengths of this research are very encouraging. The questions were
open and inviting for relaxed honest answers from the participants. Throughout
several interviews, participants stated that the questions made them think and
commented that the questions were on task and very well thought out/prepared. It
was so important that the victims voices were heard above the participants, and I
feel that this research accomplished that-the victim was well supported and heard
through the participants words.
APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW GUIDELINE
The following are back ground questions: Please feel free to disclose any other
information that you feel would be helpful for me to know before going further in
What are your educational degrees?
How many years have you or were you in school?
Do plan on furthering your education?
How many clients, on average, do you serve on your caseload?
Current open cases total?
What are the social class ranges served on your caseload?
How much do you charge per hour?
How many years have you been working in the counseling field?
What would you say your therapeutic method of choice is?
Description of employment-job duties.
What do you consider is your specialty?
Average length of time that you work with a client?
Are your clients involuntary or voluntary?
Length of stay for involuntary?
Length of stay for voluntary?
Population, gender, race of clients on your caseload?
These next questions are meant to pursue the content and the purpose of the study.
When I am asking these questions, please feel free to use your entire client case
history-meaning not just apply these questions to the clients you have at this current
time but apply these questions to all clients you have worked with past and current.
The following questions, in particular, are related to the identity formation of a
1. What is your definition of a victim?
2. What types of patients in your practice do you view as victims?
2.a (i.e. Do you view car accidents and childhood abuse as the same types of
3. How does someone go through the process of identifying themselves as a victim?
3. a How do their interpersonal relationships affect that process?
4. What ways do you notice that your patients are identifying with the victim role
within their participation in society?
3. Do you find that the victim is identifying and merging herself and her emotions
with the perpetrators emotions?
5 .a What approach do you use to deal with that?
6. How do you help the victim mom over lost identity and the perpetrators identity?
7. Tell me about the relationship between disassociating and victimization for your
8. How do you promote autonomy?
9. How do you change their established role from being committed in society as a
victim to being committed in society as an empowered individual?
10. How do you empower someone to be unsuccessful in reinforcing their victim
11. Regarding how the self changes as a result of how others view themselves, what
vocabulary do you use when speaking to the victimized patient about their process?
12. Do you know of any victims that engage in support groups?
12a. If so, of all the individuals that they know through their support group,
how many do you believe are important to them-that is, they would really miss them
if they did not see them?
12b. Think of those other victims that are important to the clients through the
support groups. About how many would they lose contact with if they did not do
the victim support group?
12c. Of the people they know through the support group, how many do they
know on a first name basis?
13. Think about your clients meeting people for the first time. They want to tell
them about themselves so theyll really know them, by they can only tell them one
thing about themselves. Of the following (doing the work they do, being a husband
or wife, being a parent, being a victim or survivor, none of these), which would they
tell them (first, next, next)?
14. Suppose it were a weekend and they had to choice to do the following things (go
to a victims/survivor support group, go on an outing with their children, catch up on
work, spent time with husband or wife, none of these). Which would they most
likely to do? Next? Next?
The following questions are related to the victims change process:
IS. Explain the pace and process of change?
16. Do you explain the pace and process of change to your patients?
17. What signs are there available that the individual is ready to work on their
18. How does your expectations of the change process differ between different
types/causes of victimization?
19. How does your expectations of the change process differ between gender, age,
socioeconomic status, and race?
20. What signs are there that the individual is going through the process of change?
20a. How do their relationships change with themselves and interpersonal
21. How do you monitor change? Through what indicators?
22. How do you, if you do, encourage the victim to integrate her trauma with her
23. During the change process, do you observe a pattern of victims identification
24. How do you encourage a stable social structure?
25. How important is trust in the process?
26. Do you encourage your patients to seek legal retribution?
26a. If so, during which stage of the healing process?
27. How does your response to the patient affect their change process?
28. How has your personal theory on change altered over the years?
The following questions are more personally related:
29. What are your goals, as the therapist, when working with the patients?
30. How do you measure success in the therapeutic change process?
31. Do you believe that self-disclosure is effective?
34. Do you have any questions, or comments that you would like to ask or add at
On a scale 1-5, 1 being the lowest-5 being the highest, the participant was:
Other essential feelings derived from the participant:
Key Points of the interview:
The interview took place
People Present (other than
APPENDIX B: CONSENT FORM
Study of Victimized Self
1. The purpose of this study is to gain information about the victimized self
regarding how therapists and victims identify themselves as victims, their
change process, the process of integration of the traumatic event, and the
importance of the community in the healing process. The study will be
conducted through in-depth interviews with therapists who work with
2. You are invited to take part in at least one interview. This will last for about
one hour, or how ever long it takes to complete the interview. If enough
information is not attained in the first interview, a second one may be
requested. Interviews will be tape-recorded. If at any time you wish for the
tape recorder to be turned off, that request will be honored.
3. It is possible that you may experience some discomfort while discussing
your views. There is also a slim possibility that you may experience
emotional or psychological discomfort with some of the issues being
4. There are many benefits that can be expected from this study. It is possible
that you may begin to question your approach towards the therapy process of
victims. It is also possible that you may have a sense of satisfaction by
helping society and other people understand the victimized self. You, and
society in general, could benefit by gaining more knowledge about the
victimized self. New knowledge could help a patient deal with the process
with healing and this knowledge in turn could lead to more policy and
advocacy to help victims.
5. I will make every effort to maintain confidentiality. Instead of using your
name, a number will be assigned to you, and any mention of your name or
place of work will not be transcribed. Only I will have access to the tapes; I
will be doing all the transcriptions myself. However, if confidentiality is
breached this could lead to a loss of cliental, non-welcomed feedback from
other therapists or researchers in the field and a sense of vulnerability not
6. Your participation is completely voluntary, and you may leave the study at
any time that you feel necessary. Withdrawing from the study will not cause
7. You are encouraged to ask this research any questions about the study and
the questions will be answered as well as possible without jeopardizing the
methodology of the research.
8. You may contact the Office of Academic Affairs, CU Denver building, suite
700, (303) 556-4060 if they have any questions or concerns about the
9. If desired, you will be given a copy of this consent form for your records and
will be given a final copy of the research.
I,__________________________________________, agree to be a research subject of this
study on victimized self. I also agree by signing this to all of the terms and
conditions written out above, knowing that my participant is completely
voluntary, and I may withdraw my services at any time with no penalty.
Subjects Name (print please)_____________________________Date:________________
This researcher, Wendy L. DeRosia (303) 548-7611, agrees by signing below to
the above consent forms terms and conditions.
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