Narratives of Intimate Partner Violence within Women’s Organisations

Studies on intimate partner violence make the claim that when women victim survivors of violence seek assistance from family members, friends, co-workers, neighbours, employers, and/or faith-based leaders, they are most likely to be met by diverse responses. Given these competing and contradictory moral discourses and responses to intimate partner violence circulating in society, the question that this research seeks to explore and answer is whether women’s organisations with a specific mandate to help women victims provide such women who seek their assistance an alternative narrative and understanding of such violence with women’s empowerment and socio cultural transformation as its ultimate goal. Approaching this question from a feminist perspective which emphasizes that such organisations are involved not merely in delivering a service but in an activity which involves making meaning of the social phenomenon of intimate partner violence, the core research question underlying this study is whether:

A complaint to women’s organisations can open up a discursive space to talk about a victim-survivors experience of violence in a way not possible or even imagined before, and whether these organisations can be conceptualised as  ‘local sites of resistance’ where dominant discourses around intimate partner violence can be challenged, where alternative feminist understandings of such violence can be shared, where old experiences can be given new meanings and understood in different ways and where the self can be (re)constructed anew.


More specifically the research will explore to what extent these organisations:

  • 1.Emphasize that intimate partner violence is not merely an individual or personal problem but also a social and political phenomenon rooted in the unequal power relationships between men and women; explore issues of  culture, history, sex-role stereotypes, politics, and available resources in the perpetuation of intimate partners violence in any given community;
  • 2.Place highest priority on the safety of women and children rather than keeping families together, where these two may be in conflict;
  • 3.Confirm the abuser’s responsibility for the abuse and does not place blame on the woman;
  • 4.Validate the woman’s experience of abuse, and acknowledge and respect the woman’s expertise with respect to her own experience while fostering self-empowerment by supporting the woman toward increased control over her life, maximizing her control over the counselling process itself and reducing the power differential between the counsellor and the woman; and
  • 5.Pursue social cultural change as an ultimate goal.


Draft PDFBattered Wives or Dependent Mothers

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Lead Researcher:Chulani Kodikara
Research Assistants:Avanthi Kalansooriya
Period:15 October 2013   –   14 October 2014
Funded by:MSI/SPICE