209444 Use of leisure as a coping mechanism for women who have experienced domestic abuse

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Marizel Dávila, MS , Department of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL

Many studies have recognized ways in which women may cope with domestic abuse. However, the role of leisure in the coping process of women who have experienced domestic abuse has been overlooked. Leisure may help victims of domestic abuse overcome feelings of depression, shame, and worthlessness. This article presents an exploratory study of women who had experienced domestic violence.


The purpose of this study was to examine whether leisure was used by women as a positive coping mechanism when dealing with domestic violence.


In-depth semi structured interviews were conducted to obtain the impressions of six women about their experiences with domestic violence. The interviews were transcribed and coded. Themes were identified.


The findings of this study suggest that the women engage in enjoyable recreation activities even if those are not allowed by their abuser. Additionally, the findings suggest that victims of domestic abuse may reclaim activities that are used as a source of control by an abuser. Reclaiming these activities may provide victims of domestic abuse with a sense of higher self-esteem and control even after the relationship had ended.


The findings of this study suggest that leisure not only functions as a diversion or distraction from the violence but also serves as a source of empowerment and resistance. As a result, negative effects of the domestic violence, such as low self-esteem and worthlessness can be diminished. Findings may aid in the provision of services to women that have experienced domestic abuse.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the potential role of recreation participation in the coping process of domestic abuse victims; 2. Identify ways in which recreation participation provides women who have experienced domestic abuse with positive coping mechanisms.

Keywords: Domestic Violence, Coping

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the primary author of this research study which was part of my thesis work.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.