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An exploration of the knowledge women in Sunderland have of help-seeking in response to domestic violence

Wilcock, Angela (2015) An exploration of the knowledge women in Sunderland have of help-seeking in response to domestic violence. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


This thesis explores the level of awareness women in Sunderland have of help-seeking intervention and what is known about the agencies that respond to domestic violence, regardless of personal experiences. It examines the extent of how understandings of domestic violence impact on potential help-seeking and the barriers that contribute to the difficulty of help-seeking. Previous research has largely focussed on survivors of domestic violence who have had contact with formal agencies.
Feminist theory informed this thesis and standpoint epistemology was used as a framework for the procedures that were applied in the research. A mixed method approach was utilised in the form of an on-line survey, which recruited participants, and informed the interview schedule in the qualitative phase. The qualitative phase included 20 semi-structured interviews with women of varied ages, which was analysed using thematic analysis. Through reflexive practice of the fieldwork process there emerged, as a result of consciousness raising, what I have coined, an ‘ontological transition’.
Significantly, ontological transitions vary between respondent pending upon their knowledge and/or personal experiences of domestic violence. However, crucially the analysis of the respondent interviews highlights that one characteristic is the impact of shame. It was found that the experience of shame is not confined to a
particular social positioning or related to faith or ethnicity. Through talking about their experiences of shame respondents were able to consider a different relationship. Some respondents were able to reject shame as they recognised that their experience is not personal but a collective of experiences in some way. This realisation and their transformation through taking part in the interview is part of the ontological transition and will be discussed further in the body of the thesis.
Importantly, this thesis illustrates the significant difference in knowledge of 3 identified respondent group types, which emerged during analysis of the qualitative data. Through reflection on the written documents and thematic maps it enabled the development and management of the key themes and new ideas (appendix 18). It was through this process that a relationship between experiences of domestic violence, and knowledge emerged as the data was refined. This was the recognition of 3 identified groups of knowledge about domestic violence, which, after further analysis, were named the experiential, institutional and notional groups (see appendix 18). The groups are informed through their social, personal or professional experiences, and this shapes their potential for future help-seeking (chapters four and five). This gives the opportunity to offer an understanding of how domestic violence and help-seeking are understood by women regardless of their experience of domestic violence.
Current theoretical and policy explanations of domestic violence and help-seeking are predominantly based on the collective experiences of survivors. They do not take into account the understandings and experiences of other women regardless of their experiences of domestic violence and, how this shapes their potential for help-seeking. I argue help-seeking is complex and the decision to seek help is a consequence that starts with recognising that what is being experienced is domestic violence. Additionally, I argue that the help-seeking is hampered through non-recognition of behaviour as domestic violence and ideologies of gendered roles and expectations, male entitlement, ownership, love and acts of altruism by women that normalise and minimise abusive behaviours in the heterosexual relationship.

An_exploration_of_the_knowledge_women_in_Sunderland_have_of_help-seeking_in_response_to_domestic_violence.pdf - Accepted Version

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Depositing User: Barry Hall


Item ID: 5646

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Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2015 09:33
Last Modified: 20 May 2019 13:21


Author: Angela Wilcock

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Social Sciences > Health and Social Care

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