n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - An only-child adolescent's lived experience of parental divorce

Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



The aim of this qualitative case study was to explore and describe the experience of an only-child adolescent's lived experience of parental divorce. Gestalt field and phenomenological theory in conjunction with current literature provided an overview of the theoretical underpinnings pertaining to the study. Data was obtained and thematically analysed by means of two one-on-one, in depth interviews. Findings showed that the participant experienced feelings associated with grief, bereavement and pressure due to being an only-child. These feelings included anger towards a loss of childhood, fear of losing loved ones and repeated patterns of loss in the adolescent's life, which all added to a loss of identity and control. Loneliness and a longing for a sibling to share this experience with were significantly present. The participant suffered from stress due to the unrealistic expectations from the parents as divorce seemed to have been their main focus. To cope with this pressure, coping mechanisms were used, mainly that of cutting to compensate for the emotional pain experienced. The study delivered a new found awareness into this vulnerable population with the hope that it will be used as a platform for further research in this area.

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