Voices: Heard. Silenced. Ignored. The Voices of Intimate Partner Violence against Affluent Women

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Skaling, Sharon
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Intimate partner violence (IPV) against women is a form of oppression that has received a great deal of interest and attention from feminists and other advocates for women’s health and well-being. While IPV has been acknowledged as having the potential to occur at every income level, there is very little research dedicated to studying IPV against affluent women, which is the focus of this study. The researcher employed arts-based research methods, specifically autoethnography and constructivist grounded theory, to conduct and analyze semi-structured interviews with nine women from middle to upper-middle class households (five were one-on-one conducted by the researcher, three used author interviews through autobiography, and in one, the researcher herself was interviewed). Focused codes were clustered into themes, each of which became a scene in the findings in the form of an auto/ethnodrama script. Findings identified three dimensions of the experience of IPV against affluent women: Who I Was, Who I Became, and Who I Am Now. Who I Was represents the life transition or vulnerable state the women were in when they met their partner as they describe themselves as “needy”, “vulnerable”, “lonely” and/or “alone”; Who I Became represents how the abuse impacted them as they describe themselves as “numb”, “weak”, “powerless” and “little”; and Who I Am Now is a celebration of the strength the women have embraced, despite the intensity of the physical violence they endured, after leaving their abusive partner as they experience themselves as “stronger”, “more confident”, “powerful” and “More Me”. These dimensions represent the thematic categories that emerged through constructivist grounded theory coding and analysis of interviews. Each dimension expresses the common words, phrases, and stories the women shared during their interviews. In addition, findings uncovered experiences that are unique to this socio-economic group, such as the lack of the traditional cycle of violence, lack of formal support systems, including transition houses, and little or no experience of IPV prior to the relationship. The third dimension, Who I Became, invites further study exploration, as the participants described themselves as stronger and more confident following their experience, even though most did not seek help through formal support groups. This, in itself, is contrary to current literature the researcher found on the recovery process from trauma. These results could inform new information on recovering from forms of trauma, such as IPV, and guide support services specific to women of affluence.
Intimate partner violence, affluent women, women