Domestic Abuse in the UK Sri Lankan Tamil Community: Understanding Shame

Prof Doc Thesis

Neville, P. 2022. Domestic Abuse in the UK Sri Lankan Tamil Community: Understanding Shame. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsNeville, P.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Introduction: Shame resulting from domestic abuse can have wide-reaching negative consequences for victim-survivors. Shame has been theorised as a transcultural, transdiagnostic, embodied emotion, the experience of which differs according to the norms and expectations of groups. More therefore needs to be understood on behalf of mental health services about the group-specific experiences of shame, to be able to provide targeted support for victim-survivors. No studies have previously examined the shame-experiences of Sri Lankan Tamil victim-survivors. Tamil culture holds honour and shame as key values, and understand health through a holistic, social determinants model, which fits with a shame-focussed approach to therapeutic care. Understanding shame may therefore be important to developing culturally-appropriate therapeutic care for Tamil victim-survivors.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with first-generation Sri Lankan Tamil victim-survivors of domestic abuse. Data were analysed using reflexive Thematic Analysis.
Results: Shame was shaped by criticism, victim-blaming, betrayal, and control. Shame experiences included fear and pain of external judgement, mothering guilt, degradation of sexual abuse, and feeling vulnerable and exposed. It also included protecting others from shame.
Conclusion: Shame can be a powerful experience for Sri Lankan Tamil victim-survivors of domestic abuse, with negative implications for wellbeing, relationships and escaping abuse. Tamil victim-survivors may therefore benefit from therapeutic support that reduces shame and increases dignity.

KeywordsDomestic Abuse; Shame; Sri Lankan; Tamil
PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online16 Jan 2012
Publication process dates
Submitted12 Aug 2022
Deposited16 Jan 2023
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