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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Challenging victim discourse: re-membering the stories of women who have been battered Carter, Margaret


This study problematizes the notion of victim in the context of women who have experienced battering in their intimate committed relationships. To this end I interviewed four women, using an in-depth semi-structured interview to obtain the women's narratives. I examined the women's narratives in order to analyze how they constructed and interpreted their experiences of victimization as well as how they perceived and defined themselves. The intent was to render visibility to the uniqueness, complexity, diversity, and commonalities of these women's stories. Women who have experienced battering are important to this study because the label "victim" is frequently applied to them regardless of whether these women define themselves or construct their experiences in terms of being victims or of being battered. Critiquing dominant perspectives, attending to broader cultural contexts, and exploring marginalized realities are indicative of a longstanding feminist agenda. Psychology and counselling psychology are constructed within dominant historical and sociocultural contexts. Mainstream and popular psychological texts, in their attempts to establish grand theories and prevailing norms, have tended to engage in oversimplified textual constructions presumed to reflect lived realities, yet ignoring both individual and broader contexts. In this thesis I attend both to contexts and to marginalized realities. The significance of this project lies in its potential to enhance current therapeutic and counselling practices. Additionally, it provides a challenge to the often presumed innocent employment of language without regard for its significant meanings and impact. It is critical that professionals working with women who are experiencing battering, understand the complexity of their experiences without imposing labels that limit these women's identities and are incongruent with their lived realities. This thesis problematizes dominant discourse regarding victims and victimization in an exploration of multiple, sometimes seemingly contradictory meanings, and diverse processes.

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