Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Women's Studies

Major Professor

Kim Vaz, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marilyn Myerson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mary Sameul Reid, Ph.D.


feminist, wife abuse, sexual abuse, nightmares, shelter, memory, battered women


Domestic abuse is the number one cause of injury to women in the United States. Women and their children flee everyday to shelters to escape the abuse. Once inside the shelters, material resources are rendered so that the women can continue to lead lives outside the shelter and different therapies are employed so that the women can better understand the abuse and their options once leaving. A type of therapy used in other therapeutic forums, such as patients sexually abused as children, is dream analysis. This type of therapy has allowed formerly traumatized victims a safe space to uncover hidden traumas, acknowledge them and begin to write new scripts for their lives. The theoretical view behind this paper is that dream analysis could be a feminist tool of empowerment for women participating in domestic abuse therapy. As a researcher, I performed research at The Spring, Tampa Florida's only domestic abuse shelter for women and their children. During the research, I observed multiple domestic violence group therapy sessions, interviewed the facilitator of this group, and held personal interviews with five different women over a three month period. During these interviews, the women discussed in detail their lives, the abuse they sustained and their dreams surrounding the abuse. The women were asked to give interpretations of the meanings of their dreams, which are incorporated in the paper. Throughout the interviews, it was of vital importance that the battered women's standpoints were privileged and that they remained the experts of their own experiences. During this process, two points became clear: forgotten traumas resurfaced during dreamtime and the women understood they were "too good" for the abuse and should leave. It became clear that dream analysis could be a feminist tool of empowerment for this highly marginalized community.