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Violence at Home, Violence On-Road
Author: Jade Levell

Boys and young men have been previously overlooked in domestic violence and abuse policy and practice, particularly in the case of boys who are criminalised and labelled as gang-involved by the time they reach their teens.

Jade Levell offers radical and important insights into how boys in this context navigate their journey to manhood with the constant presence of violence in their lives, in addition to poverty and racial marginalisation. Of equal interest to academics and front-line practitioners, the book highlights the narratives of these young men and makes practice recommendations for supporting these ‘hidden victims’.

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Author: Jade Levell

This article seeks to foreground enacted masculinity in the narratives of men who experienced both childhood domestic violence and abuse, and gang involvement. This is demonstrated through findings from a small yet in-depth research project, where life-history-inspired narrative interviews were taken from men who had experienced both childhood domestic violence and abuse, and gang involvement. The narratives were analysed using Connell’s theory and analytic frame for masculinities to explore the differing masculine identities that emerged in the narratives. By placing a focus on the masculine performances in the men’s lives, this study identified three distinct masculinity performances that were enacted during domestic violence and abuse, and in response to their experience, namely, subordinate masculinity, vulnerable masculinity and protest masculinity. Drawing from Connell’s work, I demonstrate the way in which these identities were interlinked with experience of domestic violence and abuse in childhood. The coping mechanisms that some participants engaged in appeared to relate to the enactment of violence in order to feel an achieved successful masculinity of their own. Ultimately, this article proposes the need for a greater understanding and consideration of masculinities when working with male child survivors of domestic violence and abuse.

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Author: Jade Levell

In this short piece the author uses the recent publication of an edited collection, Men, Masculinities and Intimate Partner Violence () as a springboard to focus on the pertinent questions this raises within feminist academic, policy and practitioner work. This book highlights a greater awareness of the multiplicity of masculinities and the impact this is having on work in the domestic abuse sector, particularly in perpetrator interventions. Focusing on individual experiences of masculinity and associated traumas humanises perpetrators, but the risk is that it individualises abuse perpetration away from a structural understanding of patriarchy. This is a tension within the movement, which raises questions about how we seek to understand men’s individual lives with respect, yet view masculinity through a feminist lens.

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Author: Jade Levell

In this chapter I consider the narratives of the respondents that centred on the early years of their lives, in particular between birth to the end of their pre-teens. In these parts of their stories, the participants described their circumstances at home, experiencing DVA, alongside their emerging engagement with violence in school and on-road. Central to the discussion a contrast between the way they performed masculinity at home (defined by subordinated masculinities), and at school (emerging protest masculinities). It became clear through the analysis that the different spaces of home, at school, and on-road afforded different masculinity performances.

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Author: Jade Levell

In this chapter the author explores friendships and intimate relationships. Reflections on gang ties and the role of the gang as family are explored, as is the impact that bereavement had when peers were killed in gang-related serious youth violence. Narratives of relationships with participants’ mothers and wider family are explored. Attitudes to women as intimate partners were also discussed, with a focus on violence against women. Some participants disclosed that they had perpetrated abuse against female partners in the past. The theoretical frame of cathexis is used to examine the tensions of love and fear that laced the participants’ narratives.

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Author: Jade Levell

In this chapter links to contemporary policy in the United Kingdom are made. The author highlights the disconnect between the UK government’s ‘domestic abuse’ and ‘serious violence’ strategic areas, which exist on different professional planets. The author also delves into the public health approach to violence, which is gathering global momentum, and critiques its gender-blind approach, which sidelines gender-based violence and fails to connect male violence and masculinity.

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Author: Jade Levell

In , the beginnings of the participants’ masculine biographies were outlined. They revealed the ways in which the participants inhabited a subordinate masculinity while living under the shadow of the DVA perpetrator in the private realm of home. Participants then sought opportunities outside the home where they were able to capitalize on how ‘hard’ and tough their home experiences had made them, added to the residual anger that they carried and looked for an outlet to express. Through these means they developed an emerging protest masculinity, propped up by the pursuit of opportunities for material gain, which started their journeys on-road.

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Author: Jade Levell

This chapter is concerned with the participants’ lives after being on-road and gang-involved. In varying ways, they all went through a process of disillusionment with protest masculinity and this began a period of reflection and rebuilding of their masculine identities. The ways in which power relations changed among the men at the stage of recovery was centred on them talking about how they gave up the power that the protest masculinity performance had afforded. Their perspective on their power changed when looking back on their lives retrospectively. Part of their desistance journey was seeking alternative role models for work and family life, as well as adopting new codes of morality, through religion, to achieve a new sense of masculinity. However, their experiences of trying to fit in with wider society from a position of being (in many cases), ex-prisoners, with criminal records, and difficult habits, led them to occupy a marginalized masculinity upon exit for the most part.

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Author: Jade Levell

The key thematic areas that have been explored throughout this book are masculinity, vulnerability, and violence. These threads intertwined throughout and revealed new understandings of how they interact. Specifically, Connell’s notion of protest masculinity was expanded, to explore how it was implicated with a shadow self of vulnerable masculinity. In this chapter the author proposes that they are in a symbiotic relationship, always co-existing. Violence was ever present in the participants’ lives, from DVA in childhood, to agentic and instrumental use of violence when on-road and gang-involved. The changing relationship to violence both caused and reflected changes in masculinities throughout the life course. The author recommends gender-sensitive interventions be developed in light of these findings and reflects on next steps in the concluding remarks.

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Author: Jade Levell

In this chapter, the developments in the participants’ masculine biographies are discussed in relation to their adolescence. This was the period of their most significant engagement with on-road and gang-involved life. The participants’ narratives are analysed to identify the various ways in which they adopted a protest masculinity defined by marginalization and attempts to redress the powerlessness that they felt in younger childhood. There were two distinct ways the participants spoke about themselves with regard to masculinity as something culturally achieved. These were though the discourse of being or becoming ‘a man’ and being/becoming ‘The Man’. In this chapter the author explores in more depth the portrayal of both becoming ‘a man’ and ‘The Man’ and what this reveals about the types of masculinity, as well as those gendered behaviours that were most revered on-road.

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