, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 27-39
Date: 18 Sep 2008

Gender Inequality and Patterns of Abuse Post Leaving

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Drawing on Connell’s (Gender and power: Society, the person and sexual politics. California: Stanford University Press, 1987; Masculinities. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995) model of gender relations, this paper examines patterns of intimate partner violence among women who have recently left an abusive partner. In so doing, we attempt to better understand the social structural factors that shape the relations of power and control in intimate violent heterosexual unions. The data come from the first wave of a longitudinal prospective survey of 309 women who had left an abusive partner in the previous 3 years. Our data suggest that structured relations of inequality, namely relations of production, power and cathexis, shape women’s risk of abuse and harassment after leaving, and do so in ways that shape relations of coercive control. These results have implications for understanding the social context within which male violence against women occurs, and how this context constrains and/or enables women’s strategies for leaving and safety.

This research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Emerging Team Grant #106054 and Institute of Gender and Health Operating Grant #15156 (Marilyn Ford-Gilboe, Principal Investigator). The authors thank the participants in the Women’s Health Effects Study. We also thank Julie McMullin, Kim Shuey, and the Health Effects research team for their helpful feedback.