Defense Date

5-14-2004

Graduation Date

2004

Availability

Immediate Access

Submission Type

dissertation

Degree Name

PhD

Department

Clinical Psychology

School

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Suzanne Barnard

Committee Member

Paul Richer

Committee Member

Roger Brooke

Keywords

domestic violence, lesbian, postmodern feminism, psychoanalysis

Abstract

Lesbian relationship violence is an important public and private concern, yet it has been insufficiently researched, theorized, and treated. This dissertation explores and analyzes discourse on lesbian relationship violence from the perspective of therapists, researchers, lesbians who are victimized, and lesbians who perpetrate violence. The discourse on lesbian relationship violence includes empirical research, theories, treatments, personal stories, and other communications through conversations and writings. These texts are dialogued with neo-Kleinian and postmodern feminist theory in order to unfold the parameters of the discourse on lesbian relationship violence, analyze its limits and exclusions on lesbian experiences of relationship violence, and reframe understandings and treatments of lesbian relationship violence. This method of dialoguing neo-Kleinian and postmodern feminist theory with texts on lesbian relationship violence produces interpretations that reflect a reciprocal relationship between discourse and experience.

Experience is both a starting point for analysis and a kind of measure against which discourse can be assessed. Although experience has a formative role in establishing discourse on lesbian relationship violence, experience is not without problems. Experience can not be taken solely as a source of truth or an arbiter of discourse, because it is not outside social, political, historical, and cultural forces. Accordingly, this study discovered that lesbian experiences of relationship violence are often understood in a decontextualized and simplified manner; they are either taken at face-value or translated into therapeutic language that is essentialist, heterosexist, or both. Also, these dominant frameworks for interpreting lesbian experiences of relationship violence tended to be adopted by therapist, researcher, victimized lesbian, and the lesbian who was violent. What these findings suggest is that lesbian experiences of relationship violence are often more complex and dynamic than their portrayals. It is concluded that together neo-Kleinian and postmodern feminist theory provide a framework in which lesbian experiences of relationship violence can be critically reflected upon, understood, and treated for their complexity.

Format

PDF

Language

English

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