Young People s Understandings Of Men s Violence Against Women

by Nancy Lombard

Author Nancy Lombard Isbn 978 1472419910 File size 1 5 MB Year 2015 Pages 219 Language English File format PDF Category Politics and Sociology Globally nationally and locally men s violence against women is an endemic social problem and an enduring human rights issue Unlike men who are most likely to be victims of stranger assaults and violence official data shows that women are most likely to be attacked beaten raped and killed by men known to them either partners or family members Re

Publisher :

Author : Nancy Lombard

ISBN : 978 1472419910

Year : 2015

Language: English

File Size : 1.5 MB

Category : Politics and Sociology


Young People’s Understandings
of Men’s Violence Against Women

For my children

Young People’s
Understandings of Men’s
Violence Against Women

Nancy Lombard
Glasgow Caledonian University, UK

© Nancy Lombard 2015
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or
otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher.
Nancy Lombard has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be
identified as the author of this work.
Published by
Ashgate Publishing Limited Ashgate Publishing Company
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www.ashgate.com
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
The Library of Congress has cataloged the printed edition as follows:
Lombard, Nancy, 1977–
Young people’s understandings of men’s violence against women / by Nancy Lombard.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-4724-1991-0 (hardback)—ISBN 978-1-4724-1992-7 (ebook)—ISBN 978-1-47241993-4 (epub) 1. Women—Violence against. 2. Violence in men. I. Title.
HV6250.4.W65L66 2015
362.82’92—dc23
2014042386
ISBN 9781472419910 (hbk)
ISBN 9781472419927 (ebk – PDF)
ISBN 9781472419934 (ebk – ePUB)

Printed in the United Kingdom by Henry Ling Limited,
at the Dorset Press, Dorchester, DT1 1HD

Contents
Acknowledgementsvii
1 Violence

1

2 Childhood

17

3

Research Methodology

33

4

Gender Constructions

67

5

‘Real’ Violence by ‘Real’ Men: Naturalising Masculinity

97

6

Processes of Normalisation: Distancing ‘Unreal’ and
‘Proximate’ Violence

121

7

Heterosexuality, Gender and Adulthood: Justifications
of Violence

147

8

A Change is Gonna Come?

177

Bibliography191
Index213

This page has been left blank intentionally

Acknowledgements
Writing these acknowledgements is something I have really been looking
forward to. It confirms that the process is (almost) over and provides an
opportunity to reflect upon the journey and all those that have helped me
along the way. This book arises from my doctoral thesis and the many talks and
discussions I have given about the findings. Firstly, I would like to thank all the
young people who took part in this research. Without their input, enthusiasm
and time this book would not have been possible.
I would like to say a big thank you to Linda McKie for giving me the original
‘life-changing’ opportunity of the PhD and for always believing that I could
do it. I am grateful to the many wonderful colleagues I have met since moving
back into academia who I now count as good friends, Dave Gadd, Liz Jagger,
John Stewart, Jeni Harden, Louise Dobbie, Rachel Russell, Alice MacLean, Lani
Russell, Angela O’Hagan, Susan Batchelor, Lesley McMillan, Sarah Morton,
Oona Brooks, Clare McFeely, Melanie McCarry, Andrew Paterson, Evan Stark
and Anne Flitcraft.
Nel Whiting deserves a special mention for her unrelenting enthusiasm when
mine was seriously waning and for providing that initial platform at Scottish
Women’s Aid to disseminate my findings. Thanks also to those who work in
the VAW sector (Lesley Orr, Ellie Hutchinson, Jenny Kemp, Laura Thomson,
Mhairi McGowan and Marsha Scott) for providing opportunities, training ideas
and inspiration. Also, to the women and children at North Kensington Women’s
Aid and Burnley Women’s Aid, your lives, determination and resilience inspired
me to try and make a difference.
Thanks also to my friends (in particular, Karen, Claire, Jim, Alison, Ali,
Christine and Gill) who have been my rocks over the years, providing shoulders,
laughter and fizzy wine. Thank you also to my Roy. His absolute conviction and
belief in me has meant more than he will ever know. There is a feminist saying
that behind every successful woman is a man who tried to stop her. Well behind
me is a good, loving, gentle and beautiful man who has supported me every step
of the way – he really is a star.
I would also like to say a big thank you to all my family who weren’t always
sure what it was that I was doing but knew it was taking a long time, Dad,
Dave, Jenny and the rest of you. Also, to my mum, for always looking after me,
encouraging my education, those countless phone calls and for helping me in
ways only my mum can. In part, much of my interest in this area arose because

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of the family my mum grew up in. A family which produced four very strongminded, inspiring women who each dealt with abuse in very different ways. So,
Grandma Mary, Aunty Frances, Aunty Pat and mum, this continues to be my
journey for you.
And finally, this book is for my children, for whom I continue in my quest to
change the world: Dylan, Milo, Autumn Mary and Baby Bombard.

viii

Chapter 1

Violence
Violence against women is not the result of random, individual acts of
misconduct, but rather is deeply rooted in structural relationships of inequality
between women and men.
United Nations 2006

This book examines how young(er) people, aged 11 and 12, define, construct
and understand violence, specifically men’s violence against women (incorporating
physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and economic abuses) and including
domestic violence and abuse. Men’s violence against women is both a socially
constructed and endorsed social problem. As such, the solutions to challenging
and preventing it lie within those same systems of constructed power and
gendered inequity. The research upon which this book is based enabled young
people to explore their own understandings of violence against women and in
doing so how this relates to their constructions of normative gendered roles.
Gender and violence pervade and shape young people’s social relations
and understandings very powerfully, already informing both their own
understandings and, at times, their own actions (McCarry 2010; Barter 2014;
Gadd 2014; Gadd et al. 2014). By using the broad term of men’s violence against
women, the gendered dynamics inherent within the concept of ‘violence’ are
made explicit. A short discussion of domestic violence and abuse is undertaken
in this introductory chapter to explain why it was necessary to include the terms
within the research, whilst also highlighting the need to broaden the scope to
include all forms of violence against women.
Purpose of the Book

There are two aims of this book. The first is to confront and challenge the
‘everyday’ occurrence and acceptability of the social problem of men’s violence
against women (Stanko 1985). It is an issue that impacts upon everyone, not
only the lives of adults or those who are judged old enough to talk about it. As
young people have generally not been given the power to define violence, here
they are afforded the ability to ‘name’ violence (Kelly 1988) as they understand
it. Enabling young people to engage with the discursive issues of men’s violence
against women and explore their own perceptions can be one way to look
beyond the ‘public’ or powerful appropriation of the concept. Part of their

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construction involved drawing upon their own experiential knowledge and
everyday understandings, which may be at odds with dominant discourses or
officially recognised definitions. Specifically this book will examine how young
people aged 11 and 12 name and define men’s violence against women and
interpret how they explain and account for its occurrence.
The second aim is to challenge the perception that 11- and 12-year-olds are
too young to ‘know’ about violence or to offer opinions on it. This is achieved
in two ways, by finding ways to talk to younger people about men’s violence and
through confronting preconceptions of younger people’s existing knowledge,
capabilities and understanding thereby demonstrating that this is an area that
young people can happily and confidently participate in using appropriate
research methods.
Defining and Naming Violence

There are differing debates around the actual defining of violence, men’s violence
and domestic violence, demonstrating how such definitions have concurrently
both shaped people’s understanding and been indicative of the advancement of
the feminist project (Lombard and Whiting 2015). Violence can take many forms;
it can be legally sanctioned or condemned with various intentions or motives:
power, political, accident, repercussion and retaliation. Violence can involve
a myriad of behaviours and a multitude of consequences, physical injuries,
emotional abuses, personal and sexual violations or material deprivations. That
certain acts of men’s violence are still considered ‘understandable’, ‘defensible’
and ‘honourable’ demonstrates that particular discourses still endorse some
expressions of men’s violence (Gill 2013; Lombard 2013b, 2014). The historical
legacy of the UK and other western countries, evidenced through religious, legal
and social and political examples, accepted, endorsed and legalised men’s right
to control and physically chastise their partner and children (Clark 1992; Lentz
1999). For example, in law children may still be chastised using ‘reasonable
force’ (Children (Scotland) Bill 1995). It is argued here, that young people’s
views are significant because they are living in a time and a culture where many
aspects of men’s violence against women are outwardly condemned and are
subject to consequence.
There have been numerous studies that have looked at ‘interpersonal’
violence, seeking to label men and women as equal combatants (Gelles 1983,
1987, 1993, 1997; Straus et al. 1980), undertaking ‘mutual acts of aggression’
(Fergusson et al. 2005: 1,116) and endorsing women as being as violent as
men (see Steinmetz 1977–1978). Continuous research contradicts this gender
symmetric view of violence, as well as disputing the role of women as equal
aggressors (Gadd et al. 2002; Johnson 2005; McFeely 2013; Stark 2007).
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Violence
Men’s Violence Against Women: Gendered Violence

The term ‘men’s violence’ is used in this book. Hearn (1998) and others (see
Kimmel 1987) have argued for the need to focus upon men and not maleness.
To do so renders such violence innate and therefore the options for change are
limited. It is important however that in appropriating the term men’s violence we
do not detract from the behaviour and actions of boys.
Gender is integral to ‘the way we speak, conceptualise and challenge violence’
(Stanko 2006: 551) whether it is violence that is experienced, perpetrated or
witnessed. Gender is significant because men’s violence is so often treated
as gender neutral through terms such as ‘spousal abuse’, ‘date rape’, ‘sexual
harassment’, ‘marital rape’, ‘battery’ and ‘child sexual abuse’ (Hague and Malos
1998). Skinner et al. (2005) maintain the use of ‘gender violence’ is a more
inclusive term than (men’s) violence against women as the definition does not
restrict itself to women but engages with the theoretical connection between
violence and gender relations thus including gay and lesbian people as well
as children and young people. The term ‘gender violence’ also incorporates a
wider definition of abuses and violations including prostitution and trafficking
as well as violence where women are the perpetrators (Skinner et al. 2005: 3).
A gendered analysis of men’s violence views it as a manifestation of ‘male’
power that is replicated and endorsed through individual experiences and wider
structural inequalities (Dobash and Dobash 1979, 1994; Radford and Kelly
1996; Rowland and Klein 1990). This gendered system of power is termed
patriarchy, or patriarchal relations (Hearn 1998, 1999; Lovenduski and Randall
1993; Rowland and Klein 1990) and is propagated through embedded social
(and gendered) practices and institutions. It is important to acknowledge the
importance of Connell’s term patriarchal relations that compensates for many
of the shortcomings of the initial concept of patriarchy. Here the two concepts
interchangeably, whilst embracing the elaborated dynamics of Connell’s term.
In viewing patriarchy as a series of relations we are more able to conceptualise
its cross-cultural, dynamic and relational status and thus encapsulate its spatial
and temporal diversity. This system perpetuates, legitimates and sustains the
powerful position of men, as both a group and as individuals.
Gender is the most significant risk factor for domestic abuse (Dobash and
Dobash 2004; Johnson 1995, 2005; Stark 2007) meaning that women are more
likely to experience violence from their intimate (or ex) partners than men are.
This indicates is that the intimate violence is taking place within wider structures
of gender inequality. Gender is important in any analysis of violence because
men and women use violence in different ways and have different motivations
for doing so (Hester 2009).
Gender has been identified as a key component in previous studies looking
at young people’s views of men’s violence (Burton et al. 1998; Burman and
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Cartmel 2006; Dublin Women’s Aid 1999; Kelly et al. 1991; McCarry 2003,
2007, 2010), alongside wider studies looking at societal attitudes. For example,
Kenway and Fitzclarence (1997) found that men’s violence against women was
legitimated as an accepted part of normative gender roles; it is part of how
men are and what they do. This book proposes that young people’s position in
childhood, impacts upon how they construct and understand men’s violence
against women and that they draw upon gender to explain certain forms of
violence. However, to do this, these constructions of gender are also dependent
upon the temporal and spatial positioning of the young people in relation to
the violence.
‘Naming’ Violence

Kelly (1988) developed the concept of the ‘continuum of violence’ which
discouraged the generation of a hierarchy for forms of violence and abuse. As
a theoretical framework, it also succeeded in merging the gendered spheres by
illuminating the notion that men’s normative behaviour and women’s oppression
crossed these spatial boundaries. Kelly sought to highlight that these examples
of men’s behaviour, however commonplace for both men and women, were
not normal or acceptable and needed to be named and challenged as wrong. In
doing so, the continuum facilitated the labelling of apparently normal behaviour
as part of men’s ability and choice to control, conceptualising commonalities
experienced by many women and girls in their day to day lives by ‘enabl[ing]
women to make sense of their own experiences by showing how ‘typical’ and
‘aberrant’ male behaviour shade into one another’ (Kelly 1988: 75).
Kelly’s definition is highly relevant to my research in that it contextualises
violence and abuse as something that is not always experienced or acknowledged
as violent at the time. The temporal aspect of this definition is relevant also
because of the age of the participants and their own constructions of time
and age:
In the development of the feminist movement, women have seized the power
of naming. This is a revolutionary power because in naming (describing) what
is done to us (and inevitably to children and men as well), we are also naming
what must change. The act of naming creates a new world view. The power
of naming resides in the fact that we name what we see from the basis of our
own experience within and outside patriarchal culture simultaneously. (Ward
1984: 212)

The feminist project of ‘naming’, ‘involves making visible what was invisible,
defining as unacceptable what was acceptable and insisting what was naturalised
4

Violence
is problematic’ (Kelly 1988: 139). It enables women to name, understand
and challenge what has happened (or is happening) to them, by moving the
private into the public domain and shifting the boundaries of acceptable and
unacceptable behaviour.
This research endorses the feminist arguments of naming, of knowledge
and of power (Dobash and Dobash 1979; Kelly 1988; Stanley and Wise
1993), by locating the young people within a framework that recognises and
respects their own language, understandings and situated knowledge. Indeed,
it is through lived experiences of childhood that young people explore their
own understandings and constructions of violence, with such experiences also
informing their knowledge of normative gender roles (Renold 2005). Dobash
and Dobash maintain such knowledge is critical in understanding the ‘everyday’
nature of male violence:
[l]ocating violence in the midst of daily life demands a focus on the mundane,
the ordinary rather than the extraordinary, the conflicts of interest embedded
in daily life, and the rationales and justifications of perpetrators as well as the
reactions and responses of victims. (Dobash and Dobash 1992: 142)

As such, Kelly’s continuum is useful as a tool in this research, to name and
locate men’s violence, by generating a means to situate it within everyday life.
The concept also incorporates the temporal and spatial characteristics of men’s
violence, in that the violence may occur over time, or is located a long time
in the past, or can impinge upon present and future lives. For example, Kelly
(1988: 23) claims the experience and/or naming of violence is not always an
immediate or present one, rather it can be ‘experienced by the woman or girl
at the time or later, as a threat, invasion or assault’. This is relevant in enabling
young people themselves, to have a role in the naming of behaviour that they
may understand as problematic, or not recognised by others, particularly those
in authority.
However, Hearn (1999: 131) argues against laying the task of ‘naming’ solely
at the door of women. He maintains that they may have normalised the events
and therefore find it difficult to challenge this or to link it to public discourses
of violence that do not reflect their own experiences. Instead Hearn argues
for the involvement of men in this process to compel them to recognise their
own actions and consequences as violent and abusive. The involvement of all
men (and boys) is necessary for this reason and is one step in the direction
of countering the huge personal, interpersonal and social costs of violence
that continue to be borne by women and their supporters. This journey has
begun with the promotion of non-violent masculinities and the continued
contribution of men in the movement (for example, the White Ribbon
Campaign and the UN Women campaign He For She). As such it should also
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be the responsibility of men (and boys) to also recognise their behaviour as
unacceptable. Encouraging men to challenge their own and others’ behaviour,
highlights the potential dynamism of men’s role in changing the patriarchal
relations of society. As Connell (1995, 2000) has claimed, the structures of
patriarchy thrive on women’s resistance and men’s acceptance.
The Magnitude of the Problem

The United Nations states that there are three areas where men’s violence
against women manifests itself: within the family, within the community and
that perpetrated by the state.
Violence against women is remains pervasive worldwide. It is the most atrocious
manifestation of the systematic discrimination and inequality women continue
to face, in law and in their everyday lives, around the word. It occurs in every
region, country and culture, regardless of income, class, race, or ethnicity.
(United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan 2005)

Unlike men who are most likely to be victims of stranger assaults and violence,
women and children are attacked, beaten, raped and killed by their family
and partners (Department of Health 2000; World Health Organisation 2005)
with the patterns and types of violence illustrating the persuasive inequalities
between men and women (Bond and Philips 2000). Globally, nationally and
locally, men’s violence against women is endemic within all societies:
At least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or
otherwise abused in her lifetime … Usually the abuser is a member of her own
family or someone known to her. (Amnesty International 2004)

Women are identified as the ‘most heavily abused group’ being more likely
to experience interpersonal violence, especially violence of a sexualised
nature including rape and sexual assault (Walby and Allen 2004; World Health
Organization 2005; Watts and Zimmerman 2002). Murder statistics indicate
that on average two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in
the UK (Flood-Page et al. 2003; Scottish Government Statistical Bulletin 2013).
In 2014, the Europe wide study by the European Union Agency for
Fundamental Rights found that one in three women have experienced abuse
in their lifetime; one in ten within the past 12 months. Findings from the
British Crime Survey (Walby and Allen 2004) reveal that almost one in two
(45 per cent) women has experienced some form of domestic violence, sexual
assault or stalking illustrating again that gender is a ‘significant risk factor’ in
6

Violence
victimisation. The England and Wales Crimes Survey (EWCS) reported that 1.2
million women had experienced domestic violence in 2011–2012 (Dar 2013).
In 2012–2013, the police in Scotland attended a domestic incident every nine
minutes, accounting for 15 per cent of all violent crime in Scotland. In this same
period 60,080 domestic incidents were recorded with 60 per cent of incidents
involving a repeat offender. There were 11 domestic abuse related homicides,
313 attempted murders and serious assaults and 248 sexual offences recorded
(Scottish Government Statistical Bulletin 2013).
The gendered trends of this violence and the systematic power inequalities
that it (re)produces illustrates the global and national scale at which women
and girls suffer abuse at the hands of men known to them. However, official
data cannot provide a full analysis of the true extent of men’s violence against
women, as it is both under reported and under recorded (Kelly et al. 2006)
as well as being so ‘deeply embedded’ in cultures that it is almost ‘invisible’
(UNICEF 1997: 41):
Whilst clear categories and definitions are important for statistical and research
purposes, we must never forget that these are abstract analytic concepts
developed for a specific purpose – to count the extent of violence. They do not
reflect experiential reality, which is always more complex. (Kelly 2000, Domestic
Violence: Enough is Enough conference, London, October)

Websdale et al. (1998) also argue that the magnitude of such violence cannot
simply be documented through the use of official or hidden figures alone, but
needs to be viewed in conjunction with women’s social, economic and political
subjugation. This relationship can be achieved through the application of
sociological theory and understanding to the phenomena of men’s violence
against women.
Much of the violence remains hidden or unreported because of a reluctance
to report for fear of being disbelieved, or being doubly victimised by the
criminal justice system and also because of a lack of faith in the low rates of
conviction (Lees 1993; McMillan 2013). Statistics also remain partial because of
the process by which they are collated and the methods by which categories of
violence are determined and defined. Discrepancies also arise from the use of
conflicting definitions, methodologies, measurements and contexts (Johnson,
1998; Walby and Myhill 2001; Dar 2013). Some forms of abuse that women
may experience are not labelled as ‘violence’ by legal codes or frameworks and
thus are not classified as crimes. Indeed, as Greenan (2004: 18) astutely asserts,
some areas of women’s experience remain invisible in any attempt at ‘counting’.
Even when instances of violence reach the definitive realms of the criminal

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justice system, they may then be ‘no crimed’ (see Lees 1997)1 or the charges
downgraded. Global agencies such as Amnesty International have attempted to
counter localised and judicial discrepancies by declaring that all violence against
women should be seen as a violation of their human rights leading to the
creation of new international standards and practice, such as the definition of
rape as a war crime and a crime against humanity in the statutes of international
crime tribunals (Amnesty International 2004), with such violence consistently
viewed as the most universal human rights violation (Bond and Philips 2000).
Locating Men’s Violence Against Women: Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence has been recognised as the most prevalent form of violence
against women (Orr 2007) in its various guises and perpetrations:
domestic violence has both received far more attention and has been more
defined as a gendered crime in recent government guidance and legislation than
any other kind of men’s violences’. (Hearn et al. 2002: 211)

Thus it is often crucial to separate domestic violence from other forms of
violence so as not to, as Kelly suggests, engender a contradiction:
There is, however, a contradiction at the heart of treating domestic violence as
a crime ‘like any other’, because it isn’t. The fact that it takes place in private,
between parties who have/had an intimate relationship, and may be connected
to each other in complicated ways … makes a difference. (Kelly 2000)

Some government departments, agencies and voluntary groups use the terms
men’s violence against women and domestic violence concurrently, while others
specify the use of one or the other. In common with psychosocial models (see
Bacchi 1999), it is questionable whether it is useful to construct violence against
women as a subset of general societal violence. Whilst the issues are not wholly
separate and there are elements of all forms of violence and abuse that overlap
with others, domestic violence has received particular attention both theoretically
and through policy and practice in Scotland (where this research is based).
Indeed Stanko (2006: 546) insists that familiarity between perpetrator and
victim disables a language of criminal harm. It is important here to acknowledge
domestic violence as a form of men’s violence that has been traditionally
and theoretically positioned within the private sphere, historically and socially
1  This describes the process whereby the incident is reported but does not proceed
to court.
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Violence
located as ‘a women’s place’ thus associating it with restricted forms of gendered
social practice.
McKie (2005) has argued that the term domestic violence has significant
shortcomings as an analytical concept. It is a degendered concept that emphasises the
physicality of violent acts, rather than identifying emotional and financial abuses
as well as its cumulative and repetitive nature. It also alludes to the space of the
violence as being within the domestic sphere of the home, aligning women
with the domestic and glossing over the intimate relationship between offender
and victim.2 In doing so, the lesser value placed upon the private sphere and
the gendered alignment of a woman’s place are emphasised. The home is also
referred to as a safe haven away from the everyday violences of public life.
The significance of space and place were explored throughout this research. In
using the term ‘spatiality’ I am arguing against space as simply a physical entity
or boundary (such as the home or the street) and instead focusing upon social
and spatial practices and the use of space (see Harvey 1993). As such, space and
place are identified as socio-cultural constructions rather than physical locations.
Yet focusing upon domestic violence, as a specific form of men’s violence
against women, has proved of critical importance in generating awareness and
political activity and it was for this reason that the young people are asked
specifically about their knowledge of the terms domestic violence and domestic
abuse. It is also crucial to note how more recent theoretical developments
have both grappled with the shortcomings of the terms ‘domestic abuse’ and
‘domestic violence’ whilst also consolidating the significance of the gendered
definition most notably Stark’s (2007) theory of coercive control (Stark 2007)
and Johnson’s paradigm (2005, 2008) of intimate terrorism. Stark defines
coercive control as:
a strategic course of self-interested behaviour designed to secure and expand
gender-based privileged by establishing a regime of domination in personal
life … useful to subdivide its tactical dynamics into those used to hurt and
intimidate victims and those designed to isolate and control them. (2013: 21)

He maintains it is a liberty crime that prevents women from exercising their
social, economic and political rights and responsibilities. Women are unequal
in violence because they are unequal in society, in terms of the resources and
opportunities they can access; therefore recognising the broader social context
in which the violence takes place is crucial (Stark 2007). Johnson and Kelly
2  This research recognises the use of the feminist term ‘survivor’ to describe
women’s strength and agency in dealing with male violence and abuse but uses the word
‘victim’ here as it was the term most commonly used and understood by the young
people.
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(2008) support this view maintaining that the meaning of violence differs greatly
depending upon the gender of the perpetrator and that because heterosexual
relationships are rooted in patriarchy they further validate men’s power.
Johnson’s term ‘intimate terrorism’ describes a pattern of coercive control by
one partner over another. Physical violence is one of the ways perpetrators gain
control within this pattern.
Thus, although situational couple violence is nearly gender symmetric
and not strongly related to gender attitudes, intimate terrorism (domestic
violence) is almost entirely male perpetrated and is strongly related to gender
attitudes … men’s violence produces more frequent and more severe injuries,
thereby producing a fear (or even terror) that is quite rare when women are
violent toward their male partners. (Johnson 2005: 1,128–29)
‘Official’ Definitions

Definitions and constructions of violence against women are culturally,
historically and spatially specific (Hester et al. 2004). The research was conducted
in Glasgow, the city in which both the research participants and I live. Scotland
has recognised the social problem of domestic abuse within the continuum
of violence against women as a form of gender based violence. In so doing it
explicitly acknowledges domestic abuse as an issue which disproportionately
affects women and is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men and is associated with
long-held cultural assumptions about the roles of men and women in society
(Gadd et al. 2002; Lombard 2013a; McFeely et al. 2013).
The social and political context of Scotland is of note as it is the only
country in the UK to recognise and facilitate a gender-based definition – see
National Strategy to Address Domestic Abuse in Scotland (Scottish Executive
2000) and Preventing Violence Against Women: Action Across the Scottish
Executive (Scottish Executive 2001) – thereby acknowledging the ‘broader
gender inequalities which women face’ (Scottish Executive 2000).
Domestic abuse (as gender based abuse) can be perpetrated by partners or expartners and can include physical abuse (assault and physical attack involving
a range of behaviour), sexual abuse (acts which degrade and humiliate women
and are perpetrated against their will, including rape) and mental and emotional
abuse (such as threats, verbal abuse, racial abuse, withholding money and other
types of controlling behaviour such as isolation from family and friends) …
Domestic abuse is associated with broader gender inequality and should be
understood in its historical context, whereby societies have given greater status,
wealth, influence, control and power to men. It is part of a range of behaviours
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Violence
constituting male abuse of power, and is linked to other forms of male violence.
(Scottish Executive 2000: 5)

The adoption of the term ‘abuse’ in 2000 was intended to better reflect the range
of behaviours enacted by perpetrators to control their partners. It highlights
that such abuse need not be physical and includes emotional, psychological
and financial tactics all of which are used to create compliance in a partner. In
Scotland, domestic abuse is set within a wider framework which acknowledges
the influence of gender on men and women’s lives: the decisions they may make,
the status accorded them and the relationship between them. It is important to
link together women’s experience of abuse through public and private spheres
in order to illustrate the extensive nature of men’s violence and the different
types of abusive behaviours (Kelly and Radford 1996).
The Westminster government updated their definition of domestic violence
in 2013. The main differences are their lack of gendered definition and the
inclusion of those aged 16 and over within the parameters of it:
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening
behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have
been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:






psychological
physical
sexual
financial
emotional

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate
and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their
resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed
for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation
and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten
their victim.*
* This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based
violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that
victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group. (Home Office 2013)

11


Young People’s Understandings
of Men’s Violence Against Women

For my children

Young People’s
Understandings of Men’s
Violence Against Women

Nancy Lombard
Glasgow Caledonian University, UK

© Nancy Lombard 2015
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or
otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher.
Nancy Lombard has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be
identified as the author of this work.
Published by
Ashgate Publishing Limited Ashgate Publishing Company
Wey Court East
110 Cherry Street
Union Road Suite 3-1
Farnham Burlington, VT 05401-3818
Surrey, GU9 7PT USA
England
www.ashgate.com
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
The Library of Congress has cataloged the printed edition as follows:
Lombard, Nancy, 1977–
Young people’s understandings of men’s violence against women / by Nancy Lombard.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-4724-1991-0 (hardback)—ISBN 978-1-4724-1992-7 (ebook)—ISBN 978-1-47241993-4 (epub) 1. Women—Violence against. 2. Violence in men. I. Title.
HV6250.4.W65L66 2015
362.82’92—dc23
2014042386
ISBN 9781472419910 (hbk)
ISBN 9781472419927 (ebk – PDF)
ISBN 9781472419934 (ebk – ePUB)

Printed in the United Kingdom by Henry Ling Limited,
at the Dorset Press, Dorchester, DT1 1HD

Contents
Acknowledgementsvii
1 Violence

1

2 Childhood

17

3

Research Methodology

33

4

Gender Constructions

67

5

‘Real’ Violence by ‘Real’ Men: Naturalising Masculinity

97

6

Processes of Normalisation: Distancing ‘Unreal’ and
‘Proximate’ Violence

121

7

Heterosexuality, Gender and Adulthood: Justifications
of Violence

147

8

A Change is Gonna Come?

177

Bibliography191
Index213

This page has been left blank intentionally

Acknowledgements
Writing these acknowledgements is something I have really been looking
forward to. It confirms that the process is (almost) over and provides an
opportunity to reflect upon the journey and all those that have helped me
along the way. This book arises from my doctoral thesis and the many talks and
discussions I have given about the findings. Firstly, I would like to thank all the
young people who took part in this research. Without their input, enthusiasm
and time this book would not have been possible.
I would like to say a big thank you to Linda McKie for giving me the original
‘life-changing’ opportunity of the PhD and for always believing that I could
do it. I am grateful to the many wonderful colleagues I have met since moving
back into academia who I now count as good friends, Dave Gadd, Liz Jagger,
John Stewart, Jeni Harden, Louise Dobbie, Rachel Russell, Alice MacLean, Lani
Russell, Angela O’Hagan, Susan Batchelor, Lesley McMillan, Sarah Morton,
Oona Brooks, Clare McFeely, Melanie McCarry, Andrew Paterson, Evan Stark
and Anne Flitcraft.
Nel Whiting deserves a special mention for her unrelenting enthusiasm when
mine was seriously waning and for providing that initial platform at Scottish
Women’s Aid to disseminate my findings. Thanks also to those who work in
the VAW sector (Lesley Orr, Ellie Hutchinson, Jenny Kemp, Laura Thomson,
Mhairi McGowan and Marsha Scott) for providing opportunities, training ideas
and inspiration. Also, to the women and children at North Kensington Women’s
Aid and Burnley Women’s Aid, your lives, determination and resilience inspired
me to try and make a difference.
Thanks also to my friends (in particular, Karen, Claire, Jim, Alison, Ali,
Christine and Gill) who have been my rocks over the years, providing shoulders,
laughter and fizzy wine. Thank you also to my Roy. His absolute conviction and
belief in me has meant more than he will ever know. There is a feminist saying
that behind every successful woman is a man who tried to stop her. Well behind
me is a good, loving, gentle and beautiful man who has supported me every step
of the way – he really is a star.
I would also like to say a big thank you to all my family who weren’t always
sure what it was that I was doing but knew it was taking a long time, Dad,
Dave, Jenny and the rest of you. Also, to my mum, for always looking after me,
encouraging my education, those countless phone calls and for helping me in
ways only my mum can. In part, much of my interest in this area arose because

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of the family my mum grew up in. A family which produced four very strongminded, inspiring women who each dealt with abuse in very different ways. So,
Grandma Mary, Aunty Frances, Aunty Pat and mum, this continues to be my
journey for you.
And finally, this book is for my children, for whom I continue in my quest to
change the world: Dylan, Milo, Autumn Mary and Baby Bombard.

viii

Chapter 1

Violence
Violence against women is not the result of random, individual acts of
misconduct, but rather is deeply rooted in structural relationships of inequality
between women and men.
United Nations 2006

This book examines how young(er) people, aged 11 and 12, define, construct
and understand violence, specifically men’s violence against women (incorporating
physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and economic abuses) and including
domestic violence and abuse. Men’s violence against women is both a socially
constructed and endorsed social problem. As such, the solutions to challenging
and preventing it lie within those same systems of constructed power and
gendered inequity. The research upon which this book is based enabled young
people to explore their own understandings of violence against women and in
doing so how this relates to their constructions of normative gendered roles.
Gender and violence pervade and shape young people’s social relations
and understandings very powerfully, already informing both their own
understandings and, at times, their own actions (McCarry 2010; Barter 2014;
Gadd 2014; Gadd et al. 2014). By using the broad term of men’s violence against
women, the gendered dynamics inherent within the concept of ‘violence’ are
made explicit. A short discussion of domestic violence and abuse is undertaken
in this introductory chapter to explain why it was necessary to include the terms
within the research, whilst also highlighting the need to broaden the scope to
include all forms of violence against women.
Purpose of the Book

There are two aims of this book. The first is to confront and challenge the
‘everyday’ occurrence and acceptability of the social problem of men’s violence
against women (Stanko 1985). It is an issue that impacts upon everyone, not
only the lives of adults or those who are judged old enough to talk about it. As
young people have generally not been given the power to define violence, here
they are afforded the ability to ‘name’ violence (Kelly 1988) as they understand
it. Enabling young people to engage with the discursive issues of men’s violence
against women and explore their own perceptions can be one way to look
beyond the ‘public’ or powerful appropriation of the concept. Part of their

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construction involved drawing upon their own experiential knowledge and
everyday understandings, which may be at odds with dominant discourses or
officially recognised definitions. Specifically this book will examine how young
people aged 11 and 12 name and define men’s violence against women and
interpret how they explain and account for its occurrence.
The second aim is to challenge the perception that 11- and 12-year-olds are
too young to ‘know’ about violence or to offer opinions on it. This is achieved
in two ways, by finding ways to talk to younger people about men’s violence and
through confronting preconceptions of younger people’s existing knowledge,
capabilities and understanding thereby demonstrating that this is an area that
young people can happily and confidently participate in using appropriate
research methods.
Defining and Naming Violence

There are differing debates around the actual defining of violence, men’s violence
and domestic violence, demonstrating how such definitions have concurrently
both shaped people’s understanding and been indicative of the advancement of
the feminist project (Lombard and Whiting 2015). Violence can take many forms;
it can be legally sanctioned or condemned with various intentions or motives:
power, political, accident, repercussion and retaliation. Violence can involve
a myriad of behaviours and a multitude of consequences, physical injuries,
emotional abuses, personal and sexual violations or material deprivations. That
certain acts of men’s violence are still considered ‘understandable’, ‘defensible’
and ‘honourable’ demonstrates that particular discourses still endorse some
expressions of men’s violence (Gill 2013; Lombard 2013b, 2014). The historical
legacy of the UK and other western countries, evidenced through religious, legal
and social and political examples, accepted, endorsed and legalised men’s right
to control and physically chastise their partner and children (Clark 1992; Lentz
1999). For example, in law children may still be chastised using ‘reasonable
force’ (Children (Scotland) Bill 1995). It is argued here, that young people’s
views are significant because they are living in a time and a culture where many
aspects of men’s violence against women are outwardly condemned and are
subject to consequence.
There have been numerous studies that have looked at ‘interpersonal’
violence, seeking to label men and women as equal combatants (Gelles 1983,
1987, 1993, 1997; Straus et al. 1980), undertaking ‘mutual acts of aggression’
(Fergusson et al. 2005: 1,116) and endorsing women as being as violent as
men (see Steinmetz 1977–1978). Continuous research contradicts this gender
symmetric view of violence, as well as disputing the role of women as equal
aggressors (Gadd et al. 2002; Johnson 2005; McFeely 2013; Stark 2007).
2

Violence
Men’s Violence Against Women: Gendered Violence

The term ‘men’s violence’ is used in this book. Hearn (1998) and others (see
Kimmel 1987) have argued for the need to focus upon men and not maleness.
To do so renders such violence innate and therefore the options for change are
limited. It is important however that in appropriating the term men’s violence we
do not detract from the behaviour and actions of boys.
Gender is integral to ‘the way we speak, conceptualise and challenge violence’
(Stanko 2006: 551) whether it is violence that is experienced, perpetrated or
witnessed. Gender is significant because men’s violence is so often treated
as gender neutral through terms such as ‘spousal abuse’, ‘date rape’, ‘sexual
harassment’, ‘marital rape’, ‘battery’ and ‘child sexual abuse’ (Hague and Malos
1998). Skinner et al. (2005) maintain the use of ‘gender violence’ is a more
inclusive term than (men’s) violence against women as the definition does not
restrict itself to women but engages with the theoretical connection between
violence and gender relations thus including gay and lesbian people as well
as children and young people. The term ‘gender violence’ also incorporates a
wider definition of abuses and violations including prostitution and trafficking
as well as violence where women are the perpetrators (Skinner et al. 2005: 3).
A gendered analysis of men’s violence views it as a manifestation of ‘male’
power that is replicated and endorsed through individual experiences and wider
structural inequalities (Dobash and Dobash 1979, 1994; Radford and Kelly
1996; Rowland and Klein 1990). This gendered system of power is termed
patriarchy, or patriarchal relations (Hearn 1998, 1999; Lovenduski and Randall
1993; Rowland and Klein 1990) and is propagated through embedded social
(and gendered) practices and institutions. It is important to acknowledge the
importance of Connell’s term patriarchal relations that compensates for many
of the shortcomings of the initial concept of patriarchy. Here the two concepts
interchangeably, whilst embracing the elaborated dynamics of Connell’s term.
In viewing patriarchy as a series of relations we are more able to conceptualise
its cross-cultural, dynamic and relational status and thus encapsulate its spatial
and temporal diversity. This system perpetuates, legitimates and sustains the
powerful position of men, as both a group and as individuals.
Gender is the most significant risk factor for domestic abuse (Dobash and
Dobash 2004; Johnson 1995, 2005; Stark 2007) meaning that women are more
likely to experience violence from their intimate (or ex) partners than men are.
This indicates is that the intimate violence is taking place within wider structures
of gender inequality. Gender is important in any analysis of violence because
men and women use violence in different ways and have different motivations
for doing so (Hester 2009).
Gender has been identified as a key component in previous studies looking
at young people’s views of men’s violence (Burton et al. 1998; Burman and
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Cartmel 2006; Dublin Women’s Aid 1999; Kelly et al. 1991; McCarry 2003,
2007, 2010), alongside wider studies looking at societal attitudes. For example,
Kenway and Fitzclarence (1997) found that men’s violence against women was
legitimated as an accepted part of normative gender roles; it is part of how
men are and what they do. This book proposes that young people’s position in
childhood, impacts upon how they construct and understand men’s violence
against women and that they draw upon gender to explain certain forms of
violence. However, to do this, these constructions of gender are also dependent
upon the temporal and spatial positioning of the young people in relation to
the violence.
‘Naming’ Violence

Kelly (1988) developed the concept of the ‘continuum of violence’ which
discouraged the generation of a hierarchy for forms of violence and abuse. As
a theoretical framework, it also succeeded in merging the gendered spheres by
illuminating the notion that men’s normative behaviour and women’s oppression
crossed these spatial boundaries. Kelly sought to highlight that these examples
of men’s behaviour, however commonplace for both men and women, were
not normal or acceptable and needed to be named and challenged as wrong. In
doing so, the continuum facilitated the labelling of apparently normal behaviour
as part of men’s ability and choice to control, conceptualising commonalities
experienced by many women and girls in their day to day lives by ‘enabl[ing]
women to make sense of their own experiences by showing how ‘typical’ and
‘aberrant’ male behaviour shade into one another’ (Kelly 1988: 75).
Kelly’s definition is highly relevant to my research in that it contextualises
violence and abuse as something that is not always experienced or acknowledged
as violent at the time. The temporal aspect of this definition is relevant also
because of the age of the participants and their own constructions of time
and age:
In the development of the feminist movement, women have seized the power
of naming. This is a revolutionary power because in naming (describing) what
is done to us (and inevitably to children and men as well), we are also naming
what must change. The act of naming creates a new world view. The power
of naming resides in the fact that we name what we see from the basis of our
own experience within and outside patriarchal culture simultaneously. (Ward
1984: 212)

The feminist project of ‘naming’, ‘involves making visible what was invisible,
defining as unacceptable what was acceptable and insisting what was naturalised
4

Violence
is problematic’ (Kelly 1988: 139). It enables women to name, understand
and challenge what has happened (or is happening) to them, by moving the
private into the public domain and shifting the boundaries of acceptable and
unacceptable behaviour.
This research endorses the feminist arguments of naming, of knowledge
and of power (Dobash and Dobash 1979; Kelly 1988; Stanley and Wise
1993), by locating the young people within a framework that recognises and
respects their own language, understandings and situated knowledge. Indeed,
it is through lived experiences of childhood that young people explore their
own understandings and constructions of violence, with such experiences also
informing their knowledge of normative gender roles (Renold 2005). Dobash
and Dobash maintain such knowledge is critical in understanding the ‘everyday’
nature of male violence:
[l]ocating violence in the midst of daily life demands a focus on the mundane,
the ordinary rather than the extraordinary, the conflicts of interest embedded
in daily life, and the rationales and justifications of perpetrators as well as the
reactions and responses of victims. (Dobash and Dobash 1992: 142)

As such, Kelly’s continuum is useful as a tool in this research, to name and
locate men’s violence, by generating a means to situate it within everyday life.
The concept also incorporates the temporal and spatial characteristics of men’s
violence, in that the violence may occur over time, or is located a long time
in the past, or can impinge upon present and future lives. For example, Kelly
(1988: 23) claims the experience and/or naming of violence is not always an
immediate or present one, rather it can be ‘experienced by the woman or girl
at the time or later, as a threat, invasion or assault’. This is relevant in enabling
young people themselves, to have a role in the naming of behaviour that they
may understand as problematic, or not recognised by others, particularly those
in authority.
However, Hearn (1999: 131) argues against laying the task of ‘naming’ solely
at the door of women. He maintains that they may have normalised the events
and therefore find it difficult to challenge this or to link it to public discourses
of violence that do not reflect their own experiences. Instead Hearn argues
for the involvement of men in this process to compel them to recognise their
own actions and consequences as violent and abusive. The involvement of all
men (and boys) is necessary for this reason and is one step in the direction
of countering the huge personal, interpersonal and social costs of violence
that continue to be borne by women and their supporters. This journey has
begun with the promotion of non-violent masculinities and the continued
contribution of men in the movement (for example, the White Ribbon
Campaign and the UN Women campaign He For She). As such it should also
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be the responsibility of men (and boys) to also recognise their behaviour as
unacceptable. Encouraging men to challenge their own and others’ behaviour,
highlights the potential dynamism of men’s role in changing the patriarchal
relations of society. As Connell (1995, 2000) has claimed, the structures of
patriarchy thrive on women’s resistance and men’s acceptance.
The Magnitude of the Problem

The United Nations states that there are three areas where men’s violence
against women manifests itself: within the family, within the community and
that perpetrated by the state.
Violence against women is remains pervasive worldwide. It is the most atrocious
manifestation of the systematic discrimination and inequality women continue
to face, in law and in their everyday lives, around the word. It occurs in every
region, country and culture, regardless of income, class, race, or ethnicity.
(United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan 2005)

Unlike men who are most likely to be victims of stranger assaults and violence,
women and children are attacked, beaten, raped and killed by their family
and partners (Department of Health 2000; World Health Organisation 2005)
with the patterns and types of violence illustrating the persuasive inequalities
between men and women (Bond and Philips 2000). Globally, nationally and
locally, men’s violence against women is endemic within all societies:
At least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or
otherwise abused in her lifetime … Usually the abuser is a member of her own
family or someone known to her. (Amnesty International 2004)

Women are identified as the ‘most heavily abused group’ being more likely
to experience interpersonal violence, especially violence of a sexualised
nature including rape and sexual assault (Walby and Allen 2004; World Health
Organization 2005; Watts and Zimmerman 2002). Murder statistics indicate
that on average two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in
the UK (Flood-Page et al. 2003; Scottish Government Statistical Bulletin 2013).
In 2014, the Europe wide study by the European Union Agency for
Fundamental Rights found that one in three women have experienced abuse
in their lifetime; one in ten within the past 12 months. Findings from the
British Crime Survey (Walby and Allen 2004) reveal that almost one in two
(45 per cent) women has experienced some form of domestic violence, sexual
assault or stalking illustrating again that gender is a ‘significant risk factor’ in
6

Violence
victimisation. The England and Wales Crimes Survey (EWCS) reported that 1.2
million women had experienced domestic violence in 2011–2012 (Dar 2013).
In 2012–2013, the police in Scotland attended a domestic incident every nine
minutes, accounting for 15 per cent of all violent crime in Scotland. In this same
period 60,080 domestic incidents were recorded with 60 per cent of incidents
involving a repeat offender. There were 11 domestic abuse related homicides,
313 attempted murders and serious assaults and 248 sexual offences recorded
(Scottish Government Statistical Bulletin 2013).
The gendered trends of this violence and the systematic power inequalities
that it (re)produces illustrates the global and national scale at which women
and girls suffer abuse at the hands of men known to them. However, official
data cannot provide a full analysis of the true extent of men’s violence against
women, as it is both under reported and under recorded (Kelly et al. 2006)
as well as being so ‘deeply embedded’ in cultures that it is almost ‘invisible’
(UNICEF 1997: 41):
Whilst clear categories and definitions are important for statistical and research
purposes, we must never forget that these are abstract analytic concepts
developed for a specific purpose – to count the extent of violence. They do not
reflect experiential reality, which is always more complex. (Kelly 2000, Domestic
Violence: Enough is Enough conference, London, October)

Websdale et al. (1998) also argue that the magnitude of such violence cannot
simply be documented through the use of official or hidden figures alone, but
needs to be viewed in conjunction with women’s social, economic and political
subjugation. This relationship can be achieved through the application of
sociological theory and understanding to the phenomena of men’s violence
against women.
Much of the violence remains hidden or unreported because of a reluctance
to report for fear of being disbelieved, or being doubly victimised by the
criminal justice system and also because of a lack of faith in the low rates of
conviction (Lees 1993; McMillan 2013). Statistics also remain partial because of
the process by which they are collated and the methods by which categories of
violence are determined and defined. Discrepancies also arise from the use of
conflicting definitions, methodologies, measurements and contexts (Johnson,
1998; Walby and Myhill 2001; Dar 2013). Some forms of abuse that women
may experience are not labelled as ‘violence’ by legal codes or frameworks and
thus are not classified as crimes. Indeed, as Greenan (2004: 18) astutely asserts,
some areas of women’s experience remain invisible in any attempt at ‘counting’.
Even when instances of violence reach the definitive realms of the criminal

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justice system, they may then be ‘no crimed’ (see Lees 1997)1 or the charges
downgraded. Global agencies such as Amnesty International have attempted to
counter localised and judicial discrepancies by declaring that all violence against
women should be seen as a violation of their human rights leading to the
creation of new international standards and practice, such as the definition of
rape as a war crime and a crime against humanity in the statutes of international
crime tribunals (Amnesty International 2004), with such violence consistently
viewed as the most universal human rights violation (Bond and Philips 2000).
Locating Men’s Violence Against Women: Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence has been recognised as the most prevalent form of violence
against women (Orr 2007) in its various guises and perpetrations:
domestic violence has both received far more attention and has been more
defined as a gendered crime in recent government guidance and legislation than
any other kind of men’s violences’. (Hearn et al. 2002: 211)

Thus it is often crucial to separate domestic violence from other forms of
violence so as not to, as Kelly suggests, engender a contradiction:
There is, however, a contradiction at the heart of treating domestic violence as
a crime ‘like any other’, because it isn’t. The fact that it takes place in private,
between parties who have/had an intimate relationship, and may be connected
to each other in complicated ways … makes a difference. (Kelly 2000)

Some government departments, agencies and voluntary groups use the terms
men’s violence against women and domestic violence concurrently, while others
specify the use of one or the other. In common with psychosocial models (see
Bacchi 1999), it is questionable whether it is useful to construct violence against
women as a subset of general societal violence. Whilst the issues are not wholly
separate and there are elements of all forms of violence and abuse that overlap
with others, domestic violence has received particular attention both theoretically
and through policy and practice in Scotland (where this research is based).
Indeed Stanko (2006: 546) insists that familiarity between perpetrator and
victim disables a language of criminal harm. It is important here to acknowledge
domestic violence as a form of men’s violence that has been traditionally
and theoretically positioned within the private sphere, historically and socially
1  This describes the process whereby the incident is reported but does not proceed
to court.
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Violence
located as ‘a women’s place’ thus associating it with restricted forms of gendered
social practice.
McKie (2005) has argued that the term domestic violence has significant
shortcomings as an analytical concept. It is a degendered concept that emphasises the
physicality of violent acts, rather than identifying emotional and financial abuses
as well as its cumulative and repetitive nature. It also alludes to the space of the
violence as being within the domestic sphere of the home, aligning women
with the domestic and glossing over the intimate relationship between offender
and victim.2 In doing so, the lesser value placed upon the private sphere and
the gendered alignment of a woman’s place are emphasised. The home is also
referred to as a safe haven away from the everyday violences of public life.
The significance of space and place were explored throughout this research. In
using the term ‘spatiality’ I am arguing against space as simply a physical entity
or boundary (such as the home or the street) and instead focusing upon social
and spatial practices and the use of space (see Harvey 1993). As such, space and
place are identified as socio-cultural constructions rather than physical locations.
Yet focusing upon domestic violence, as a specific form of men’s violence
against women, has proved of critical importance in generating awareness and
political activity and it was for this reason that the young people are asked
specifically about their knowledge of the terms domestic violence and domestic
abuse. It is also crucial to note how more recent theoretical developments
have both grappled with the shortcomings of the terms ‘domestic abuse’ and
‘domestic violence’ whilst also consolidating the significance of the gendered
definition most notably Stark’s (2007) theory of coercive control (Stark 2007)
and Johnson’s paradigm (2005, 2008) of intimate terrorism. Stark defines
coercive control as:
a strategic course of self-interested behaviour designed to secure and expand
gender-based privileged by establishing a regime of domination in personal
life … useful to subdivide its tactical dynamics into those used to hurt and
intimidate victims and those designed to isolate and control them. (2013: 21)

He maintains it is a liberty crime that prevents women from exercising their
social, economic and political rights and responsibilities. Women are unequal
in violence because they are unequal in society, in terms of the resources and
opportunities they can access; therefore recognising the broader social context
in which the violence takes place is crucial (Stark 2007). Johnson and Kelly
2  This research recognises the use of the feminist term ‘survivor’ to describe
women’s strength and agency in dealing with male violence and abuse but uses the word
‘victim’ here as it was the term most commonly used and understood by the young
people.
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(2008) support this view maintaining that the meaning of violence differs greatly
depending upon the gender of the perpetrator and that because heterosexual
relationships are rooted in patriarchy they further validate men’s power.
Johnson’s term ‘intimate terrorism’ describes a pattern of coercive control by
one partner over another. Physical violence is one of the ways perpetrators gain
control within this pattern.
Thus, although situational couple violence is nearly gender symmetric
and not strongly related to gender attitudes, intimate terrorism (domestic
violence) is almost entirely male perpetrated and is strongly related to gender
attitudes … men’s violence produces more frequent and more severe injuries,
thereby producing a fear (or even terror) that is quite rare when women are
violent toward their male partners. (Johnson 2005: 1,128–29)
‘Official’ Definitions

Definitions and constructions of violence against women are culturally,
historically and spatially specific (Hester et al. 2004). The research was conducted
in Glasgow, the city in which both the research participants and I live. Scotland
has recognised the social problem of domestic abuse within the continuum
of violence against women as a form of gender based violence. In so doing it
explicitly acknowledges domestic abuse as an issue which disproportionately
affects women and is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men and is associated with
long-held cultural assumptions about the roles of men and women in society
(Gadd et al. 2002; Lombard 2013a; McFeely et al. 2013).
The social and political context of Scotland is of note as it is the only
country in the UK to recognise and facilitate a gender-based definition – see
National Strategy to Address Domestic Abuse in Scotland (Scottish Executive
2000) and Preventing Violence Against Women: Action Across the Scottish
Executive (Scottish Executive 2001) – thereby acknowledging the ‘broader
gender inequalities which women face’ (Scottish Executive 2000).
Domestic abuse (as gender based abuse) can be perpetrated by partners or expartners and can include physical abuse (assault and physical attack involving
a range of behaviour), sexual abuse (acts which degrade and humiliate women
and are perpetrated against their will, including rape) and mental and emotional
abuse (such as threats, verbal abuse, racial abuse, withholding money and other
types of controlling behaviour such as isolation from family and friends) …
Domestic abuse is associated with broader gender inequality and should be
understood in its historical context, whereby societies have given greater status,
wealth, influence, control and power to men. It is part of a range of behaviours
10

Violence
constituting male abuse of power, and is linked to other forms of male violence.
(Scottish Executive 2000: 5)

The adoption of the term ‘abuse’ in 2000 was intended to better reflect the range
of behaviours enacted by perpetrators to control their partners. It highlights
that such abuse need not be physical and includes emotional, psychological
and financial tactics all of which are used to create compliance in a partner. In
Scotland, domestic abuse is set within a wider framework which acknowledges
the influence of gender on men and women’s lives: the decisions they may make,
the status accorded them and the relationship between them. It is important to
link together women’s experience of abuse through public and private spheres
in order to illustrate the extensive nature of men’s violence and the different
types of abusive behaviours (Kelly and Radford 1996).
The Westminster government updated their definition of domestic violence
in 2013. The main differences are their lack of gendered definition and the
inclusion of those aged 16 and over within the parameters of it:
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening
behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have
been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:






psychological
physical
sexual
financial
emotional

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate
and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their
resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed
for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation
and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten
their victim.*
* This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based
violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that
victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group. (Home Office 2013)

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