The Journey After Parental Child Abduction: An Autoethnography
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The objective of this thesis was to explore the consequences of parental child abduction on abductees from the perspective of a person who experienced international parental child abduction at the age of six. I, the author, am, both the subject and the researcher. In this study, a qualitative process in the form of an autoethnographic approach was used in order to provide an in-depth view that is presently not available in research. The focus was to examine the short and long-term effects, as predicted by empirical studies available to date, and to determine whether the effects and resolution could be illustrated by an autoethnographic account of childhood parental abduction. Another focus was to review the current counselling processes recommended for working with abductees. The abduction experience is expressed in vignettes written specifically for this study. They are presented in chronological order to illustrate the author’s experience after the abduction and following the reunion with the left-behind parent. The vignettes begin on the day of the abduction and end on the day the author and abductor parent reconnected, 19 years later. The results of this study showed that the author’s experience of parental child abduction matches themes found in the current literature such as attachment and family disruptions, trauma, loss and grief, identity confusion, guilt, fear of reabduction, and adjustment difficulties. It was also found that coping strategies developed in response to abuse, adjusting to a new culture, and a lack of belonging. In addition, the results of this study suggest that there is a need for research conducted with abductees because their experience and understanding of events differ from information provided by parents.