THIS RESEARCH WILL BE USED TO:
- Raise awareness of the issue of domestic violence against women and advocate for change
- Mobilize and equip churches, Christian organizations, and individuals to act against violence against women and girls
- Develop new resources, most especially the creation of a domestic violence recovery course that can be offered for free by churches around the world
Ally's interest in this research is rooted in decades of Christian pastoral care and international development work that exposed her to the prolific global violence against women and girls. But it was really when she herself was struggling to find freedom from an abusive marriage that she realized the gap in resources which address the whole person—mind, body and soul—in healing from trauma. The heart of her quest emerges from both her own healing and academic journey as she pieced together psychological, spiritual, and theological resources. It soon became evident that not only is violence against women and girls the largest global crisis we are facing today, but that a restorative and transformative domestic violence recovery program must be made available to women. Given the complexity of trauma recovery, doctoral-level research is requisite to the creation of the necessary resources to help survivors around the world be restored to well-being. With this in mind, Ally is currently working on a Ph.D. in Practical Theology, emphasizing in neuroscience, psychology, women's studies, and spiritual formation.
Through Ally's Ph.D. research she is cultivating an interdisciplinary, critical-correlational conversation at the intersections of trauma theory, feminist theological anthropology, and spiritually integrated psychotherapeutic practices of care. Winnicott’s object relations theory, narrative theory, and the contemplative Christian practice of inner healing prayer are her primary conversation partners as she explores and contributes to scholarship on the process of healing and meaning-making following trauma. Utilizing Winnicott’s notion of the True and False selves in connection with his conception of “holding,”Bion’s idea of “containing,” and Blackwell’s “bearing witness, Ally's research seeks to rebuild the survivor’s personhood through intra- and inter-relational connectivity via a small group format. In order to recreate a cohesive identity for survivors, narrative theory is key to her research as the agentic act of survivors storying their fragmented abuse narratives facilitates healing.
Fundamental to this process of healing for survivors are practices of reparative spirituality empowered by a feminist theological reframing of God and the biblical narratives in order to appropriate redemption, healing, and flourishing for women. Ally's research specifically employs liberative images of a compassionate, suffering Christ in the practice of inner healing prayer for traumatic memories. The product of her research will be a co-participatory model of recovery which enables survivors to build a secure internal attachment to self, God, and others in order to reconstruct their identity as imago Dei.