A Lifetime of Intimate Partner Violence Coping Strategies of Older Women

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Little is known about how older women cope in long-term abusive intimate relationships. Understanding their coping strategies may give insight into how to further support their effective coping efforts. Interviews were conducted with 38 women older than age 55 years. Grounded theory analysis demonstrated that women who remained in their abusive relationships employed mainly cognitive (emotion-focused) strategies to find meaning in a situation that was perceived as unchangeable. By reappraising themselves, their spouses, and their relationships they refocused energies in certain roles, set limits with their abusers, and reached out to others (friends, family, and community organizations). Some women appeared to thrive, others merely survived, but all maintained the appearance of conjugal unity.