Narrating Manhood

Narrative Therapy and Domestic Violence

Abstract: This thesis discusses domestic violence through theory arising from Narrative Therapy, particularly deconstruction and discourse analysis. Drawing from an intersection of Narrative Therapy and feminist theory, it examines masculinities and heterosexual relationships as an unfixed set of stories navigated by individuals. It focuses particularly on expanding understandings of coercive control and social collusion in a contemporary Australian context.

Media and literary accounts of domestic violence provide the basis of an analysis of current discourses, which are situated in an historic context commencing with second wave feminism. Several persistent stereotypes arising from media and literary accounts of domestic violence are contrasted with professional interventions, notably Johnson’s typologies (2008) and the Duluth Model, a community response framework that includes the ‘power and control’ wheel. The application of a range of Narrative Therapy concepts is demonstrated within the text itself, in a creative component that queries dominant stories, critiques social collusion and destabilises dichotomies, notably, in an academic article detailing a pilot Men’s Behaviour Change Program (MBCP), co-authored by a fictional psychologist. These applications of Narrative Therapy, highlighting the contributions of Derrida, Foucault and feminist theory, expand the possibilities for this approach to be applied by practitioners in the field of domestic violence.

This thesis, then, argues for the preventative intervention of domestic violence through a radically enriched description, in Narrative Therapy terms, of the normalised practices of men who use coercive control. The thesis additionally recommends complex interrogation of social collusion as a departure point for change, arguing for a shift in social discourses of domestic violence. Unsustainable dichotomies require reconsideration. Collusion is present in the everyday stories and practices of heterosexual unions. In the very mundanity of controlling practices resides the possibility for renconfiguration and social change.

Thesis supervisors: Dr Susanna Chamberlain &  Dr Stephanie Green

Institution at which thesis was completed: Griffith University

Email contact: