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Open Access ‘It’s a work in progress’: men’s accounts of gender and change in their use of coercive control

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Over the past ten years the theoretical framework of ‘coercive control’ has been increasingly applied, critiqued and now underpins a criminal offence. While many argue that it more accurately reflects experiences of victimisation, there has been little exploration of coercive control through the accounts of perpetrators. Through two phased interviews with 64 men attending UK Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programmes, we examine how and why men use coercive tactics and how unpicking gender norms enabled some men to recognise and reduce their use of coercive control. We argue that coercive control is more dynamic, contestable and open to change than previous research has suggested. Some men did manage to take steps away from investing in traditional masculine norms and reduce their use of coercive tactics. However, this was an uneven and contradictory process which took time ‐ involving painful realisations of loss and harm alongside a discovery of the benefits associated with letting go of restrictive gender norms. Understanding how and why men invest in or dismantle gender norms that underpin coercive control has important implications for theory and for practice, particularly the content and focus of work with domestic violence perpetrators.
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Keywords: coercive control; domestic violence; gender; perpetrator programmes; space for action

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 2019

This article was made available online on August 16, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "‘It’s a work in progress’: men’s accounts of gender and change in their use of coercive control".

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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