Lovestruck: women, romantic love and intimate partner violence.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Contemporary nurse : a journal for the Australian nursing profession, 2006, 21 (2), pp. 174 - 185
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Intimate Partner Violence remains a significant problem globally despite health promotion aimed at raising awareness. In particular, there is a current trend for many young women to view some abusive/violent behaviours as acceptable in their relationships. Intimate Partner Violence has serious implications for its short and long term impacts on the health of women and children. Health workers may find working with women a challenging and sometimes frustrating experience. A way forward is to develop clearer understandings of the complexities of Intimate Partner Violence and to better understand women's investments in romantic relationships. In this paper a secondary analysis of data from a narrative study of women's recovery from IPV relationships is presented in order to illustrate discourses that inform underpinnings of romantic relationships. Transcriptions of audio-taped interviews were analysed using a feminist post-structural approach in order to make visible the ways in which the women negotiated their identities in the discourses of femininity. A critical review of current literature was also undertaken to develop the construct of romantic love. Women revealed that cues for Intimate Partner Violence were present early in the relationship but were not recognised at the time. Two positions within the discourse of romantic love were identified that underpinned their desires to establish and invest in the relationship despite the presence of cues for Intimate Partner Violence. These were 'Desperate for a man' and interpreting jealousy as a sign of love. Romantic love may be desirable for the sharing of warmth, safety and protection, and yet can mask behaviours that are cues for domestic violence. Understanding the complex nature of the ways that women's desires are located in the discourse of romantic love has implications for all nurses working to prevent and reduce the incidence of Intimate Partner Violence.
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