Barriers to Recognising Domestic Violence and Abuse: Power, Resistance and the Re-storying of ‘Mutual Abuse’

  • Catherine DonovanEmail author
  • Rebecca Barnes
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Victims and Victimology book series (PSVV)


Chapter  4 presents five case studies from the Coral Project’s qualitative data to queer heteronormative, cisnormative narratives of intimate partner violence and abuse (IPVA) that reproduce binaries of male/female, victim/perpetrator in relation to the public story of domestic violence and abuse, and to demonstrate the importance of understanding relationship contexts before making an assessment of what type of IPVA is being used. We include an outline of how we have categorised participants’ accounts, informed by Johnson’s typology. Whilst interview participants for this chapter were selected because they appeared quantitatively to be ‘perpetrators’ of IPVA and to be in relationships characterised by mutual abuse, the selected case studies problematise these assumptions and argue for closer attention to the different kinds of IPVA that are enacted and the relationship contexts that they are enacted within. Through these case studies, we make two key points: first, that patriarchal heteronormativity and cisnormativity are relevant to the experiences of LGB and/or T+ people who are victimised by coercively controlling partners; and second, that victims/survivors who use space for reaction in response to coercively controlling partners find it difficult to recognise their victimisation, in turn inhibiting their opportunities for help-seeking.


Coercive control Domestic violence and abuse Experiential power Identity abuse Intersectionality Intimate partner violence and abuse Lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender Love Mutual abuse Perpetrators Power and control Public story of domestic violence and abuse Qualitative Relationship rules Resistance Space for reaction Typologies of domestic violence and abuse Victims/survivors 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Durham UniversityDurhamUK
  2. 2.University of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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