Understanding Why LGB and/or T People Remain in or Return to Domestically Violent Relationships: An Ecological Analysis

Monday, 16 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Catherine DONOVAN, University of Sunderland, United Kingdom
Rebecca BARNES, University of Leicester, United Kingdom
Why do lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or trans (LGB and/or T) people experience/enact domestic violence and abuse (DVA) in their intimate relationships? Theoretical responses to this question currently reflect the disciplines that have researched the phenomenon. Thus, there is a predominantly psychological approach focusing on the factors correlated with individual ‘victim’ and/or ‘perpetrator’ behaviours. This approach predominates in research and also in practice, primarily because it is in privatised and individualistic contexts – counselling, therapy – that LGB and/or T people experiencing/enacting DVA most often seek formal help. However, a more sociological approach, taken in this paper, considers the wider socio-economic and cultural contexts in which LGB and/or T people live out their relationships to focus on what the conditions are that might lead to DVA relationships being initiated, maintained and, indeed, returned to. In this analysis we analyse our data from British mixed-methods research and draw on Heise’s ecology of violence framework to point to the ways that the (nested) individual, relational, community and societal layers constitutive of the socio-economic and cultural contexts in which LGB and/or T people live can develop more holistic understandings of their experiences of DVA. We particularly focus on help-seeking behaviours since, clearly, the existence of appropriate and timely support can make the difference between whether a DVA relationship continues or ends. We explore the ways in which, for those experiencing/enacting DVA behaviours, help-seeking is shaped by society (e.g. through the public story of domestic violence, lack of inclusive sex and relationships education), the community (e.g. through willingness or ability of friends and family to respond appropriately and homo/bi/transphobia from informal and formal potential help providers), the relationship (e.g. dynamics of power, love, care and responsibility in the relationship), and the individual (e.g. whether this is a first relationship as an LGB and/or T person).