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Beyond Risk and Safety: Client Resistance to the Intimate Partner Violence Prevention



Parallel abstracts

Intimate partner violence has no longer been seen as a private matter but a significant social issue that the State has the right to interfere with since the Domestic Violence Prevention Act was enacted in 1998. The primary prevention strategy is to assess risks battered women might be involved in and to develop a safety plan to avoid future violence. This case study adopts institutional ethnography, i.e. taking the standpoint of the battered woman to examine how the institutional ideology of intimate partner violence shapes the subjectivity of the battered woman, who is characterized "resistant" and "something wrong with her" from the perspectives of the services providers, through texts, and further explicates the power relations embedded in the domestic violence prevention practices. The results indicate that intimate partner violence is viewed as a crime in which the victim-subject is made and safety is the primary focus of all professional practices mediated by the texts in the institution of intimate partner violence prevention. Her reluctance may be viewed as a confrontation with the institutional logic that excludes the actual experiences she has been doing as a wife, mother, and daughter-in-law. Additionally, embracing the values of neoliberalism, the prevention strategies, such as safety planning, entail a shift from "victim" to "survivor" with a focus on the battered woman's empowerment and agency through which she is responsible for keeping herself safe. It seems that justice has been done by making the batterers accountable for their violent behaviors that should be sanctioned. However, the battered woman's main concern for preserving the relationship with her husband and commitment to maintaining the family intact have remained unacknowledged given that the main focus of the dialogues between parties (e.g., the battered woman, the batterer, counseling psychologist, social worker) is placed on violence. Accordingly, the path to decreasing the resistance and developing preventive strategies that will fit with their social situations is through acknowledging battered women as knowing subjects and making plans based on their knowledge of living.


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