Looking at creative writing as a tool for adult survivors of intimate partner violence: a systematic review

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The CDC defines intimate partner violence (IPV) as physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm by a current or former partner. IPV has been reported by 10 to 69% of women worldwide at some point in their life, according to UpToDate. There are common, lasting, and preventable health consequences to those who have experienced IPV. Art therapy has been explored for survivors and literature has shown that it can assist them in processing their experience.

What is unknown is if creative writing can help survivors on their journey to healing. This systematic review will be focused firstly on creative writing and secondly on other forms of art therapies as interventions, being used singly or in conjunction with psychological interventions. A literature search will be conducted using key terms related to intimate partner violence and various forms of art therapy as interventions. Participants included in this review will be adults of any gender that identify as survivors of IPV.

This systematic review has revealed very little regarding creative writing specifically. Poetry has been used by therapists to help patients outline and define their abuse and come to a decision to leave an unhealthy relationship. Others who have experienced sexual violence have used writing throughout their recovery. There are even studies looking at retreats for survivors, where art and writing are used to aid in the healing process.

Most, if not all, of this form of therapy includes the survivor writing or creating art about themselves and their experiences as a method to understand what happened to them. There are implications that there is a place for creative writing therapy in the practice of medicine that can help open the discussion about intimate partner violence and assist survivors. Future studies could be conceived of that would begin to address this gap.



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