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Abstract

Researchers have established that partners of veterans who isolate socially because of posttraumatic stress disorder are also socially impacted. It is not known how partners cope with their own social isolation and the influence of social media on the isolation while maintaining commitment to their veteran partners. Weiss’ theory of the syndrome of loneliness was used as the basis for this phenomenological study investigating social experiences in 10 female participants drawn from social media groups. Although the study was open to male or female partners, only female partners of male veterans chose to participate. Qualitative email interviews established how the participants socialized as well as the professional and supportive services they might consider beneficial. Data were coded and analyzed to identify patterns that emerged from the experiences of the participants. The primary themes that emerged included that the women had established deep commitments to their veterans and experienced social isolation. Participants’ perception of the social stigma of posttraumatic stress disorder resulted in social withdrawal and a dependency on social media for their social interaction and support.

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