Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Lisbeth Pike

Second Advisor

Dr Tony Featherstonehaugh


Review of research conducted into woman abuse indicates there was an emphasis on questions looking at why women stayed in abusive relationships. Little or no research was specifically designed to answer questions about how women leave abusive relationships or determine the salient factors involved. The literature review also highlighted the importance of services and service providers because women who had experienced abuse would seek help and Knight and Hatty (1992) found that the quality of help received determined their future responses. Kurz and Stark (1988) found that workers' perceptions about woman abuse influenced how workers responded to the women seeking help. Hoff (1990) indicated that workers' negative responses may cause their services to be inaccessible to women who have experienced abuse. A theory emphasising an individual's subjective experiences and how these perceptions influence their actions is Kelly's (1955) personal construct theory. The exploratory study was designed to elicit and examine the construct systems employed by service providers, within the domestic violence domain in the Perth metropolitan area, concerning factors affecting women's decisions to leave abusive relationships. Twelve participants (1 male and 11 females), ages ranging from 25-50 years (mean age= 35 years), with 2 to 15 years (mean = 5.8 years) experience volunteered for the study. They completed repertory grids, using the triadic method and 5-point rating scale, consisting of eight supplied elements selected to be representative of abusive and non-abusive relationships. Analysis of the individual and group grids was performed by REPGRID 2 and SOCIO (Shaw, 1989) using principal components analysis. Results indicated that the participants' perceptions of woman abuse focused on individual characteristics which may have negative consequences for their service delivery practices as found by Hoff (1990). An inference was drawn that the factors employment status (NiCarthy, 1987), education level (Gelles & Cornell, 1990) and the presence of physical violence (Knight & Hatty, 1992) are critical factors involved in a woman's decision to leave and abusive relationship. Repertory grid technique was thought to be useful in the area of woman abuse and service providers found the technique of benefit.