How Do Women Who Are Violent In Couple Relationships Understand Their Violent Behaviour?

Prof Doc Thesis

Bodkin, W. 2021. How Do Women Who Are Violent In Couple Relationships Understand Their Violent Behaviour? Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Education and Communities
AuthorsBodkin, W.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This study analyses the in-depth accounts of women who are aggressors in intimate partner violence in France. These female high-risk offenders give a rich and detailed description of their understanding of their violence. It seems it is a re-enactment from past traumas and is repetitive and transgenerational. For many years research and public policy in many countries have assumed that men are aggressors and women victims. Often citing self-protection as the explanation used to explain women’s violence, a reaction to their male partner who is aggressive. However, I show that women’s intimate partner violence isn’t always in self-defence. I also show that bidirectional violence, where both men and women are aggressors and victims, is also present.
Using a qualitative methodology the data was studied through interpretative phenomenological analysis, with six one-hour interviews from three participants in this sparsely researched area. Three superordinate themes with eight subordinate themes were produced. Superordinate themes were: impact of early family violence; searching for a couple relationship without violence; an urgent need for change, internal world leads to acting-out. The discussion of the results highlights psychodynamic theories, including attachment theory, object relations, and mentalization to understand the women’s violence in a couple context.
Psychodynamic couple therapy will benefit from this research as there are few qualitative studies that give a voice to women who are violent in their couple. Deepening our understanding of a woman’s experience of being violent in couple relationships is an original contribution to knowledge, and contributes to the broader understanding of the increasing numbers of domestic violence cases beyond gender stereotypes.
The limitations of the study are also discussed as is the need for further qualitative psychodynamic investigation to look at other types of female perpetrated violence in a similar rich and in-depth way.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online10 May 2021
Publication process dates
SubmittedSep 2020
Deposited10 May 2021
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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