Exploring Narratives of Women Survivors of Abuse in the Context of Turkey: A Challenging Transition from Submission to Empowerment

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Busra YALCINOZ UCAN, Bogazici University, Turkey
This study aims to reveal women’s experiences of disengagement from intimate partner violence with a particular focus of how prevalent cultural discourses on marriage in the context of Turkey obstructs their process of leaving as well as their post-separation experiences. Conservative narratives on family life in Turkey seem to normalize and justify male violence in marriages by prioritizing male dominance, which in turn making women’s decision to leave and their lives afterward very complicated and challenging. In this respect, the main purpose of this research is exploring women’s narratives in terms of how and in what ways patriarchal power structure of the family culture affects women’s process of disengagement.

Participants included sixteen women who were exposed to violence at least for 1 year and have been separated from their abusive partners for at least two months. Two in-depth interviews with each participants were conducted. The analysis of interviews followed the principles of Grounded Theory.

The themes and contents emerged from women’s narratives showed that male dominated family ideology results in feelings of ambivalence and contradictions in their separation process. The focal discourse regarding these feelings is their experience of difficulties to position themselves outside the family life and to reconstruct their identities as resistant and autonomous individuals. This transition from being submissive to getting empowered was defined as a tough one dominated by the feelings of shame and guilt because it contradicts with the internalized gender roles and the belief system of their families. Divorce was considered as a shameful act against the family honor; they were advised to be patient and to accept the marriage as it is. This becomes a very strong internal barrier for women to take the decision to leave and creates psychological and social challenges upon their efforts to build a life by themselves.