Public Release: 

Victims of abusive relationships also survivors, book says

University of Toronto

Women who leave abusive partners may take a long time to heal, but they can overcome their traumatic experiences, says a new book by a University of Toronto sociologist.

Fleeing the House of Horrors: Women Who Have Left Abusive Partners (U of T Press, 2002) chronicles the lives of 39 women who escaped abusive relationships. It also examines how the women's families were affected by the abuse and the role their children played in helping their mothers alter their lives.

"Even at the worst of times, these women have been able to make decisions about themselves and for their children," says author and sociologist Aysan Sev'er of U of T at Scarborough. "They are constantly struggling to make life better for themselves but, at the same time, they have been victimized by their partners even after they've left." Sev'er notes that while some women have eating or sleeping disorders and are afraid of entering into another relationship, others have returned to school or work and are rebuilding their lives.

Sev'er says leaving an abusive husband or partner is possible and she outlines a model of coping strategies for women. "The most important step is to rebuild self-respect, confidence and self-esteem and to have support networks in place. As one woman in my book puts it, 'We survived the unsurvivable.'" The book was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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ADDITIONAL CONTACT INFORMATION: Professor Aysan Sev'er, sociology at U of T at Scarborough, 416-287-7296, sever@utsc.utoronto.ca

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