Knowing what to do: coping with sexual violence by male intimates

Qual Health Res. 1999 Sep;9(5):588-601. doi: 10.1177/104973299129122108.


The purpose of the Heideggerian hermeneutical project, from which this article stems, was to describe women's experience of sexual violence by male intimates. Ten women who had encountered sexual violence by a male they knew well were interviewed about the effects of that experience on their everyday lives. The women described "knowing what to do" to manage their lives by using practical, everyday activities to cope with the violence. Their narratives were interpreted according to the Heideggerian concept of understanding as know-how. For Heidegger, understanding is not a cognitive process; rather, it is an implicit "knowing how" to do what is appropriate in each situation. Professionals who work with women who have experienced intimate sexual violence should seek to understand the women's intuitive understanding of what is possible and to appreciate the common sense ways they cope with life in a violent world.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Domestic Violence / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rape / psychology
  • Sex Offenses / psychology*
  • Women / psychology*