In a study to differentiate injuries of physical abuse from non-physical abuse, 103 women wrote uninvited comments that were analyzed in two ways: Q-sort and phenomenology analyses. Q-sort identified two categories: helplessness and assertiveness. Comparisons with subject responses about current or previous violence indicated that women who wrote assertive comments were less likely to be in a violent relationship than women who wrote helpless comments. Phenomenological analysis indicated that women who were categorized as silent, received or subjective were in abusive relationships; some had been abused on the day of admission. Two women wrote comments considered subjective procedural; both were living with their abuser and stated that the abuse no longer occurred. Health-care professionals must question the appropriate goal to counsel abused women. Whether these two continua reflect a readiness to leave the relationship or result from having left, the comments by two women who say they are no longer being abused are more assertive and appear to show higher levels of knowing.
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