Women's experiences of domestic abuse and alcohol: same hell, different devils
Young, J. (2016) Women's experiences of domestic abuse and alcohol: same hell, different devils, no. 291.
Research into domestic abuse and alcohol use has been dominated by a focus on associations between male perpetrator's drinking and physical violence, neglecting issues of power and control. Minimal space has been given to enabling women's voices to be heard. This study explored the duality of domestic abuse and alcohol use, by not only focusing on alcohol use defined as problematic, but by examining its role in the everyday lives of abused women, and how their experiences were shaped by a gender differentiated society. It was therefore critical to study women's alcohol use as potentially normal, pleasurable, a constructive and autonomous response to their lives as they balanced multiple risks against each other. A Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) approach deployed the visual method of Photovoice with seven women survivors of domestic abuse in Scotland. Participant generated photographs were used to facilitate dialogue across multiple group sessions. Views of ten stakeholders, working in related fields, were also collected by semi-structured interviews. Combining Johnson's (2008) typology of domestic violence with Stark's (2007) framework of coercive control, created a feminist lens through which a nuanced understanding of the complexity of domestic abuse could be revealed. This enabled new insights in relation to not only how women understood, managed and negotiated the use of alcohol within this intimate context, but how gendered societal discourses intersected with those experiences. Telling a different story of domestic abuse and alcohol, one that moves away from the violence paradigm, revealed a new perspective that uncovered the complex and often contradictory discourses which women must negotiate in their roles as women, partners and mothers in the context of domestic abuse. These discourses were found to contribute to women's entrapment, owing to their invisibility and general acceptance as the 'wallpaper' that constitutes the backdrop to women's lives.