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Title: Exploring young people's views and experiences of relationship abuse : and the role of education in framing this perspective
Author: Cole, S.
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis investigates young women's experiences of domestic violence and abuse within teenage heterosexual relationships and the role of education in understanding these experiences. Domestic violence and abuse has often been defined and located as an adult issue. However, there is increasing awareness that young people experience greater levels of violence and abuse in their relationships, from as young as thirteen (Barter et al 2009); with comparable deleterious effects as for older women. This research focuses on young women (all under the age of nineteen) who were at school when they experienced violence and abuse in their romantic relationships. The research utilises a theoretical framework which draws on insights from feminist post-structural approaches to gender and sexuality. It does so in order to explore the discourses available to young women with which to make sense of their experience of relationships in a context of violence and abuse. It also seeks to explore the young women's experience of education, both formal and informal; the role it played, and the role it could have played. There is a dearth of empirical research that has explored, in depth, young women's experiences of violence and abuse, and subsequently, little is known about the ways in which they understand and make sense of their experiences. This research adopted a feminist narrative approach to the interviewing in order to allow the young women participating in the research to give voice to their experiences of violence and abuse in the context of their education. The discourses the young women drew on in order to narrate and explain their experiences reflect dominant heteronormative discourses of love. Their 'stories' were supported by narratives which were infused by popular culture - these were hierarchically gendered in nature and appeared to perpetuate inequality in a way which simultaneously allowed violence and abuse to remain hidden amongst dominant 'practices of love' (Donovan & Hester, 2015). From my analysis this included experiences of pregnancy and motherhood which were weaponised and bound up with gendered power relationships and complex experiences of love. The research presented here will argue that these young women's narratives were at times incoherent, as they worked to find ways to understand their experiences in an apparently limited and confining heteronormative framework. This 'identity work' is recognised as part of their attempts to reproduce, resist and rupture discourse, and goes some way in explaining the contradictory and fragmentary nature of these stories. A particularly pertinent focus of the research was the focus on education, and the fact that these young women's experiences were explored within their broader educational context (and both in terms of informal and formal educational arrangements). This educational exploration was also important because of the means in which it has allowed for an understanding of the ways education has frustrated their understandings rather than used as a space to challenge their experiences and disrupt confining discourses, however, it also highlighted the ways in which education might be able to transform young people's experiences, understandings and their constructions of relationships.
Supervisor: Allan, A. ; Jones, S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available