Understanding Domestic Violence with complex trauma theory
Faculty: Simantani Ghosh, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
Co-supervisor name: Maitrayee Sen
Department/Research Centre: Psychology
Project Description: Violence against women, particularly in the form of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), remains a grave concern worldwide. IPV not only inflicts physical harm but also leaves enduring psychological repercussions. The World Health Organization reported that, as of 2018, approximately one in three women globally experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate or non-intimate partner.
In India, Intimate Partner Violence takes on a broader dimension and has to be defined in terms of domestic violence (DV). DV in the South Asian context is deeply entrenched in cultural norms that subordinate women to men, reflecting prevalence rates similar to global figures. However, the nature of abuse extends beyond the conventional understanding of IPV, as Indian women often cohabit with not just their spouses but also marital relatives who can be perpetrators. Emergent data suggests that domestic violence among married women reportedly doubled between 2014-15 and 2019, despite NFHS surveys more or less replicating the WHO statistics (1 in 3 women, approximately) with respect to DV exposure.
Episodic framing of issues pertaining to domestic violence, as is common in the literature, fails to capture the nuanced psychological consequences of sustained, and repetitive domestic violence. Researchers argue for a continuous trauma framework to better map the pervasive and chronic nature of domestic violence in India. The complex trauma theory, initially developed for childhood sexual abuse survivors, emerges as a relevant lens for understanding the multilayered trauma experienced by Indian women.
Complex trauma theory posits that prolonged, inescapable trauma results in psychological disturbances beyond those defined by the clinical construct of PTSD. For Indian women, the pervasive environment of control, oppression, and abuse throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood aligns with the criteria of complex trauma. Our preliminary data (unpublished) also suggests that ever partnered Indian women trapped in abusive relationships often display psychological disturbances that are well aligned with the disorders of self organization (DSO) cluster of symptoms that complex trauma theory accommodates, that include interpersonal disturbances, negative self concept and extensive somatic symptoms.
In this study we ask the overarching question whether Complex Trauma theory can be utilized to investigate consequences of domestic violence in ever partnered adult Indian women.
Duration (in weeks): 10 weeks
Start date: 6/15/2024
End date: 8/24/2024
Level of Interns: Senior Undergraduates or Master’s Students
Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 3
Project type: Combination of field & lab project
Technical skill/knowledge requisites: Statistics (Regression, Mediation.Moderation), Psychometrics, Psychological Trauma.
The project will require knowledge of quantitative statistics, especially regression, mediation and moderation, and psychometric assessment. Participants will learn about unique cross-cultural moderations and nuances of conduction participatory action research in the global south