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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26224

Title: The social construction of gay male partner abuse: Power, discourse and lived experience
Authors: Poon, Maurice Kwong-Lai
Advisor: George, Usha
Department: Social Work
Keywords: partner abuse
domestic violence
gay men
same-sex
relationships
discourse
Issue Date: 17-Feb-2011
Abstract: Recent research has found high rates of abuse in gay male relationships; however, little is known about their lived experience. This study aims to explore (1) the social construction of abuse in gay male relationships, (2) its discursive effects on clinical practice and (3) the lived experience of gay men involved in abusive relationships. This study included three sets of data. Using a discourse analysis, articles published in popular queer media and academic literature were analyzed to understand the social construction of partner abuse. Three focus groups, with 16 service providers, were conducted to examine the discursive effects of partner abuse on clinical practice. In-depth interviews with 21 gay men involved in partner abuse were conducted to understand their lived experience. Transcripts of the focus groups and interviews were reviewed in detail to highlight themes and concepts. Analysis revealed that gay male partner abuse is not a self-evident or natural category but, rather, socially constructed. Current discourse created two opposite categories (the victim who is powerless and helpless; the perpetrator powerful and evil) that both informed and limited the way in which service providers saw and, thus, worked with gay men involved in partner abuse. Yet, as shown in the analysis, the lived experience of partner abuse does not always fit neatly into the rigid victim and perpetrator roles. Instead, the roles are frequently unclear and contradictory. We social workers need to be aware of the discursive effects of gay male partner abuse and critically examine how they impose certain assumptions on us. Instead of seeking a “true” experience of partner abuse, we need to help these men search for meaning within the events that are relevant to them, regardless of how they fit into the normative discourse of gay male partner abuse.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26224
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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