An Investigation into the Relationship Between Domestic Violence and Childhood in an Australian Context

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White, Alexis (2022) An Investigation into the Relationship Between Domestic Violence and Childhood in an Australian Context. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The effects of domestic violence on childhood are significantly under investigated in the literature, the experiences of women dominate the field. The underpinning argument of this thesis is that children who witness domestic violence are silent victims. I have used feminist and sociological theories to strengthen the thesis and frame the gendered and social contexts of domestic violence, providing context for how the social phenomena has been historically understood. I have used lived experience to explore the effects of witnessing domestic violence as a child, in an Australian context. The highlights and challenges of investigating the self within the context of a sensitive topic are discussed. Autoethnographic methods have been harnessed to represent an experiential narrative of witnessing domestic violence, connected to the context of the broader social issue. Field texts were produced during the research process, in the form of diarised entries and stream of consciousness writing and were subsequently utilised for analysis. Genealogical data sets comprised of family artefacts such as photos and life documents were also used as primary data sets. The disordered nature of writing the self is thoroughly investigated and demonstrated in the excerpts of diarised entries included in the data section. The thesis concludes with the proposal that the production of familial generational violence and victimisation is impacted by structural factors such as class position, gendered behavioural patterns, and the constructs of the nuclear family. Adulthood is negatively affected by a childhood disrupted by experiential accounts of domestic violence, exposure to violence and victimisation in the home significantly impacts life outcomes.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4410 Sociology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords domestic violence, childhood, children, Australia, autoethnographic, intergenerational, family, identity
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