Reframing Domestic Violence

Kathleen Gale, Elmira College

This paper critiques our understanding of violence against women and girls within domestic contexts. Theories and methods used in the field do not address questions that need to be answered to develop adequate ways of reducing harm, notably how do these families persist over many years despite attempts to stop violence. Narratives told by women and girls illuminate how violent interactions are perpetuated by internal and external collusion to deny violence in the name of love and loyalty. Telling and reframing scenes allows a survivor to retain an alternative way of understandng "what happened." Absent this reframing a person subject to violence as well as one she tells about it, participates in perpetuating denial and harm within the family. A feminist qualitative method allows understandng of how we might better address domestic violence as it persists over many years.

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Updated 05/20/2006