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'The edge to him was really, really nasty': abusive tactics used against informal supporters of domestic violence survivors

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Survivors of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) often seek support from people around them, and the responses, judgements and behaviours of these people have the potential to help or harm. Adults in survivors' networks are rarely studied, and little consideration is given to what they might experience as they journey alongside the survivor. To address this, a qualitative study was conducted, with people who had a female friend, relative, neighbour or colleague who had experienced DVA, and the abusive behaviours experienced by participants were explored. Twentythree interviews were conducted, and a thematic analysis of the narratives carried out. Findings indicated that participants had a variety of perpetrator behaviours directed towards them, including violence, threats, hostility, intimidation, despotism, punishment and manipulation. Occasionally these behaviours were overt, but frequently they were obscured, leading to confusion. There were parallels between behaviours used by perpetrators towards informal supporters, and those frequently used towards survivors. Factors that appeared to mediate what was experienced included characteristics of informal supporters, their relationship with the survivor, and whether there were children involved. These findings have important practical and policy implications if the needs of informal supporters of DVA survivors are to be recognised and met.
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Keywords: BYSTANDERS; DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE; INFORMAL SUPPORTERS; SECONDARY VICTIMISATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2017-05-01

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Gender-Based Violence (JGBV), is the first international journal based in Europe to show case the work of scholars across disciplinary and topic boundaries, and from a range of methodologies.

    The journal acknowledges both the breadth of gender-based violence (GBV) and its links to gendered inequalities. It aims to continue to document the voices and experiences of victims and survivors of GBV, to publish work regarding those who perpetrate GBV and of the varied and complex social structures, inequalities and gender norms through which GBV is produced and sustained. The journal recognises the intersection of gender with other identities and power relations, such as ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, faith, disability and economic status.

    JGBV will publish high quality papers that contribute to understanding of GBV, policy, and/or activism, on sexual violence, domestic abuse, ‘honour’-based violence, prostitution, trafficking and/or reproductive violence and abuse in a wide range of intimate, familial, community and societal contexts.

    The editors invite interest from scholars working across the social sciences and related fields including social policy, sociology, politics, criminology, law, social psychology, development and economics, as well as disciplines allied to medicine, health and wellbeing.

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