"You Don't Realize That You Feel Safe Until You Don't": Women's Stories of Dating Violence
Despite decades of activism and research concerning violence against women, young women continue to be victimized in both public and private domains. Movements such as #MeToo show the widespread and pervasive nature of gender-based violence, as well as the utility of sharing stories of trauma to connect and empower victims. Victims of gender-based violence (forms of which include dating violence and sexual assault) often hesitate to seek much-needed support for fear that their experiences will be dismissed or devalued by loved ones and social systems alike. As part of a larger study on the use of Digital Storytelling to empower survivors of dating violence, individual narrative interviews were conducted with 5 women exposed to wide-ranging forms of dating violence, such as severe physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, as well as stalking. Using thematic analysis, four overarching themes were found: Experiences of Dating Violence, Trying to Understand the Partner and the Relationship, Outside Responses and Systemic Barriers, and finally, Mental Health, Identity, and Long-Term Impacts of Dating Violence. Within these overarching themes, subthemes included topics such as control and insidious abuse, social media as a site of power and control tactics, sexual coercion and abuse, safety and triggers, PTSD and depression, and making meaning of experiences of dating violence. The content of these narratives will be useful for service providers and community members seeking to understand the many dimensions and far-reaching impacts of dating violence, a topic which is inherently difficult to study (Snyder, 2019).
dating violence, intimate partner violence, gender-based violence, digital storytelling, #MeToo, sexual assault, stalking, thematic analysis
Master of Education (M.Ed.)
Educational Psychology and Special Education
School and Counselling Psychology