Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Science


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences


Using a phenomenological approach, this study, "Killing Ostriches" sought to investigate the experience of violence in the home of a small group of young women living in the northern suburbs of Perth. Seven young women between the ages of 17-26 took part in the study. Five of these young women claimed to have experienced violence in their family of origin and the: remaining two, introduced for triangulation purposes, claimed not to have done so. The study sought, not only to explore the lived experience of violence in the home for these young women, but to also investigate their experience of youth work practice. Accounts of family violence provided indicate the significance and meaning of family violence for participants. What the study was not able to do is to provide accounts of aspects of youth work practice perceived as beneficial or detrimental by the young women involved in the study as none of them were aware of the availability of youth workers. They were unaware of other supports available to them and were also scared that if anyone found out, their situation would become intolerable. Each of these women chose not to disclose to anyone outside their immediate environment. For some of these young women I was the first person to whom they had disclosed much of their story. The study provides a better understanding of why it is that young women who have experienced violence in their family of origin do not disclose to others who might be in a position to support them and possibly stop the violence. The young women in this study were isolated from their peers and any support mechanisms that might have been available to them. The study, therefore, provides further insight into why it is that young women living in a violent environment choose to remain silent thereby maintaining the isolation associated with family violence. What is clear is that young women who have experienced violence, no matter what form that violence might have taken or where it is placed on the continuum of violence, have a need to discuss their experience with an individual they feel confident will support them according to their needs. What is also clear is that these particular young women were not aware of anyone who might fill this role. The literature shows the importance of identifying at least one attachment figure as early as possible in life, with whom a secure attachment may be developed. The women in this study have greater awareness of the issues involved in family violence than do many youth workers and other professionals to whom they might realistically go for help. What this study has shown is that there is need for further research based on the needs and experience of women, such as those involved in this study, to effectively answer the original research subquestion relating to youth work practice. It also suggests that youth work practioners should be involved in such research.

Included in

Social Work Commons