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’.
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.
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.
This chapter examines the spatial dynamics that are faced by men who experience domestic violence and abuse (DVA) at home in childhood, and who become involved with gangs/on-road. Drawing on in-depth life story interviews with survivors of child DVA, this chapter illustrates participants’ complicated relationships with space in relation to their experiences of DVA. This chapter examines how these men constructed their masculine subjectivities in spatially specific ways, arguing that the use of public and private spaces can operate as a gendered strategy for coping with childhood DVA.
In this chapter, intersectionality is applied to the life-history narratives of men who had experienced various forms of childhood adversity, including domestic violence and abuse (DVA), and later becoming ‘on-road’ and gang-involved. In the context of DVA, applying intersectionality allows us to see that for many families domestic violence can be one of a number of forms of abuse shaping family life. Intersectional analysis demonstrates how the experiences of DVA are amplified by further structural victimization. By looking at the childhood experience of marginalized black and mixed-race men who experienced DVA in childhood, this chapter explores the way in which different intersections affect the construction of masculinity, which thus impacts the way in which young people are constructed as victims (or not). This chapter offers a unique perspective on people whose experience of victimization through DVA is complicated by the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, class and criminality.
In this chapter the author outlines the premise of the study and introduces the core theoretical concepts that underpin the rest of the book. This study uses gender theory to explore the participants’ narratives, resulting in an identification of different and at times competing masculinity performances affected by intersectional identities through the life course. The conceptualization of masculinity as a theoretical lens is explored, using Connell’s masculinity theory. The author situates masculinities within a wider understanding of patriarchy. Working definitions of on-road and gang involvement are outlined.
In this chapter there is an exploration of the ways in which children who have experienced DVA have been historically overlooked and seen as on the periphery to the abuse. Boys who have experienced DVA have occupied a space of tension within feminist organizing around DVA. In the early days of the second-wave feminist movement boys were seen as peripheral to the woman-focused nature of the movement and its related interventions. The author highlights there is still much work to be done to open up the conversation about men’s childhood experiences of DVA. This chapter also focuses on the issues for boys identified as gang involved. Gang labelling has been reductionist, racialized, and classed.
The gaps in research and policy work in this area have led to an under-examination of the ways in which masculine identities are constructed by boys and young men who live with DVA.
This chapter outlines the methodological approach of music elicitation. Participants were asked to bring three music tracks that helped them tell their life stories. These tracks functioned in different ways: as an anchor to memories, as a narrative tool, and as a communication aid. Ultimately, the use of song lyrics and music videos helped create a participatory model that forged a bridge of understanding between the researcher and participant.
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.
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.