Domestic Violence Survivors Who Became Anti-domestic Violence Volunteers: A Qualitative Study in China

Lei Wu, Yunong Huang, Yiyuan Gao, Qiang Chen, Helen McLaren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This research examined the life experiences of domestic violence survivors in China, specifically the actions taken, experiences and meanings they ascribed in becoming anti-domestic violence volunteers. Data were collected via in-depth interviews in 2020 with ten such volunteers. Theories of posttraumatic growth and theories of volunteering provided an analytical framework. The findings showed that the volunteers’ experiences during and following their escape from violence went through three stages: from shock, self-blame and acceptance to recognition of the abuser as wholly responsible for the violence, followed by connecting domestic violence experiences to gender equality, social justice and human rights. Their actions against domestic violence also went through three stages: from endurance to breaking-away, followed by becoming anti-domestic violence volunteers. Participation in anti-domestic violence volunteer work contributed to rebuilding their perceptions of the self, the family and intimate relationships and the world. It also provided them with effective ways to recover from domestic violence and to foster resilience and experience posttraumatic growth. The findings indicated that whilst domestic violence resulted in a variety of negative impacts on survivors, they had resilience that aided recovery and they achieved posttraumatic growth through participating in anti-domestic violence volunteer work.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberbcac186
Pages (from-to)2157-2175
Number of pages19
JournalThe British Journal of Social Work
Issue number4
Early online date3 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • Anti-domestic violence volunteers
  • China
  • domestic violence survivors
  • posttraumatic growth
  • resilience
  • anti-domestic violence volunteers


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