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Title: 'Victimhood' and gender in domestic violence : an analysis of the discourse of clinical psychologists and relational therapists
Author: Morrish, Claire Eve
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 5746
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2012
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Domestic Violence has been high on the political agenda, with several policy initiatives aimed at improving the nation's health (e.g. Tackling Domestic Violence, 2004). However, a growing body of literature suggests that men are equally subject to abuse as women. Despite the un-gendered language of many initiatives aimed at tackling this phenomenon, and statements that men can also be abuse victims, the thrust of official policy and of discursive and non-discursive practices that currently predominate in the institution of Health reflect a feminist discourse of domestic violence. This constructs men as overwhelmingly the primary aggressor, little affected by any violence perpetrated upon them by women. Additionally, research suggests that those working in public services, including mental health, are likely to be unaware of the possibility and needs of male victims of domestic abuse, while simultaneously assessing male violence as more egregious than female. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five family therapists and five clinical psychologists around victimhood in domestic violence, particularly looking at explanations for involvement in domestic violence, and a Foucauldian discourse analysis was utilised to analyse talk. Five main discursive sites were identified: I Abuse as Gendered', 'Abuse as Reaction', Abuse as Damage', I Abuse and the Institution of Mental Health' and 'Constraining Discourses'. In conclusion, while clinicians were aware of the possibility of male victimhood, especially concerning psychological abuse, the predominant 'taken-for-granted' assumption was that men were the . aggressors, because of physical superiority and sense of entitlement embedded in a patriarchal ideology. Greater focus on psychological outcomes than predisposing factors and discomfort with systemic explanations may be related to concerns about 'victim-blaming'. Dominant discourses of IPV may not reflect the complexity of client experience. Limitations of the study are explored and future research and clinical implications addressed. Results may be used to identify practical additions to clinicians' training.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available