DOI: 10.12924/si2013.01010003 |Publication Date: 9 April 2013

Identifying the Barriers to Women's Agency in Domestic Violence: The Tensions between Women's Personal Experiences and Systemic Responses

Jo Aldridge
Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, UK
Abstract: Despite advances in knowledge and understanding about the impacts of domestic violence on women's lives, global research on violence against women shows there is a need for research that not only places women centre stage in research praxis, but also that involves them more collaboratively in genuine dialogue about their experiences, including their agentic stances. This is especially the case for marginalised and socially excluded women victims of domestic violence, such as those who are not known or do not present to services and who survive abusive relationships alone or with little outside support. Evidence from two studies reported here—secondary analysis of women with severe and enduring mental health problems and a collaborative narrative project with unsupported women victims of domestic violence—suggest that women's capacity for agency are compromised by a number of critical factors, and that these are also reflected in the tensions between micro–macro analyses and understanding of the impact of domestic violence on women. This article considers the barriers to women's agency from the women's perspective and in the context of broader, systemic dynamics, including the denial or obscuring of abuse by governments and states and the consequences of stringent fiscal retrenchment that put women at increased risk of domestic violence.

Keywords: agency; domestic violence; gender inequality; resilience

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2012 - 2020 by the authors; licensee Librello, Switzerland. This open access article was published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).