Browsing PhD e-theses by Subjects
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The beam and shadow of the spotlight: visibility and invisibility in women’s experiences of domestic violence and abuseAlthough it has received greater policy attention in recent years, domestic violence and abuse (DVA) is a global problem that, at a national level, remains under-reported, under-prosecuted and under-convicted. The apparent ineffectiveness of policy approaches in reducing the incidence of DVA, or mitigating its social and economic costs, not least upon those directly experiencing DVA, forms the backcloth of this enquiry. The aim of the study presented in this thesis was to explore, from a feminist poststructuralist perspective, the processes by which heterosexual women enter, endure and leave abusive relationships. Using semi-structured narrative style interviews, I worked with fourteen women with a wide range of characteristics in terms of age, ethnicity, physicality, socio-economic status and the length of time elapsed since their experiences of abuse. Using Nicola Gavey’s (2005) concept of cultural scaffolding (the discourses and [hetero]normative practices that make it so difficult to identify a relationship as abusive), I examined the space between normalised heterosexual relationships and abuse and, in the process, provided a better understanding of women’s routes into DVA. I have shone a spotlight on the full range of perpetrators’ behaviours that entrap and oppress their female partners and have identified four key domains in which the tactics of the abuser work to: ensnare his victim; dismantle her previous identities; prevent her from leaving the relationship; and punish her for leaving. These include behaviours used to manipulate women’s social and support networks in order to prolong or sabotage their attempts to escape the abuse. From a feminist poststructuralist perspective, participants’ experiences of entering, enduring and leaving abusive relationships can be read as part of the wider cultural scaffolding of heteropatriarchy, which left them exposed to ensnarement and exploitation. Using Dark Triad (Paulhus 2002) as a model for conceptualising perpetrators’ manipulation of their ex-partners, their children, and professionals, I offer an alternative way of understanding men’s abuse of their female partners.