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Title: Identity construction and perception of violence by female residents of a domestic violence shelter
Author(s): Reinboldt, Rosicler Saloan
Supervisor(s): Creese, Angela
Blackledge, Adrian
Keywords: chronotope
coercive control
discourse analysis
domestic violence
narrative analysis
Issue Date: Jul-2020
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This research examines the narratives of three women temporarily living in a shelter for women fleeing domestic violence in the UK. It explores how they construct their identities and perceive violence, how broader narratives influence their perceptions and identity construction, and how these broader narratives are interwoven and represented in their stories. It is an interdisciplinary study drawing on domestic violence, sociolinguistics, sociology, narrative and literary theories. This interpretive study combines a narrative approach with elements of ethnography. Through in-depth analysis, it investigates the structural and thematic content of the narratives, the linguistic and discursive strategies used by the women, the different contextual aspects of the narratives and the relationships between time, space and people. Stories were elicited through unstructured interviews. Several findings emerge in relation to the women’s narratives. First, coercive control was consistently indexed in their stories through the use of linguistic strategies and discursive markers. Forms of emotional and mental abuse appear in their stories as more damaging to their sense of self and autonomy than, for instance, physical violence. Second, the women represent themselves not as victims but as thinking, acting and reacting people in response to the circumstances at hand. The identity of the victim appears as a ‘retrospective evaluative, ascribed identity’ (Blommaert 2005, p. 206). Third, their personal and meaningful possessions spoken about in their narratives served as a strong indexical of identity representations, and the destruction or disposal of such possessions by their abusive partners represented a violation of the self and of their identity ownership. Together these findings illustrate how narratives help us to understand better the agency women bring to their lives. Violence and abuse, especially in the form of coercive control, appear in the analysis as an attack on the women’s identity and a hindrance to their identity construction, corroborating earlier studies.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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