Cuckoos and recovery: an exploration of responsibility within UK domestic abuse awareness group programmes

Author: Laura Dix1
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  • 1 Birkbeck University of London, UK
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Major gaps exist in the literature around domestic abuse awareness courses and their aims and effectiveness (Williamson and Abrahams, 2014). This research explores the construction of responsibility within UK domestic abuse awareness programme discourse. Narratives of empowerment and responsibility for recovery for survivors can blur into others that blame the victim by making her responsible for ending future abuse (‘prospective responsibility’, Virkki, 2015) or try to ‘normalise’ or cure her from entering into another abusive relationship. This research demonstrates the need for further consideration around issues of agency, responsibility, temporality and empowerment within domestic abuse group discourse. It also raises concerns around the use of preventative education with women who have already experienced abuse: the underlying narrative of blame and responsibility for future safety is the ‘cuckoo’ in the nest that has the potential to push out the more positive message of recovery. Finally, it highlights the power of domestic abuse awareness discourse as a syllabus of recovery and empowerment and reinforces the need for further reflection on the role of groups within the UK.

  • 1 Birkbeck University of London, UK

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