3. Theoretical underpinning of this research

... continued

Classification of dynamics

Two main categories can be found which are characterised by fear and the direction of violence. Each main category has two sub-categories, i.e. the perpetrator/victim dynamic shows two subcategories, the “abusive partnership” and the “affect accented dynamic”, while bi-directional dynamics show the subcategories of “care intervowenness/care collusion” and “traumatized partnerships”.

These categories share similarities but also show significant differences, such as lack of fear in bi-directional dynamics.

Table1: Classification of dynamics

Violent dynamics in lesbian partnerships
Perpetrator/Victim Dynamic Participant Dynamic
Dynamic of
systematic,
repeated assaults
(“abusive”
partnership)
Affect accented
dynamic
Care
interwovenness
Traumatized
partnership
Direction of violence Mono-directional exertion of violence Mono-directional exertion of violence Bi-directional exertion of violence Bi-directional exertion of violence
Cyclic process, one-sided motivation Haphazard process, one-sided motivation Repetitive motives, two-sided motivation Repetitive motives, two-sided motivation
 Violence transgresses prior boundaries Violence transgresses prior boundaries Progression to violence Escalation of violence
Fear Victim’s fear determines dynamic of partnership Victim’s fear determines dynamic of partnership Possibility of situational fear; it does not determine dynamic of partnership Possibility of situational fear; it does not determine dynamic of partnership
Power/Domination Domination Power Power Power
Control Experience of loss of control (perpetrator and victim) Experience of loss of control (perpetrator and victim) Experience of loss of control (both parties) Experience of loss of control (both parties)
Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness (perpetrator and victim) Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness (perpetrator and victim) Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness (both parties) Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness (both parties)
Perpetrator exerts direct control Perpetrator exerts indirect control Direct and indirect control Direct and indirect control
Hopes of partnership Desire for care is carried over to victim Desire for care is carried over to victim Complementary regressive resp. progressive realization Complementary revival of violent traumata in life history
Desire to be one with partner Prevention of dissolution of  personal boundaries through one-sided violence Prevention of dissolution of personal boundaries through one-sided violence Dissolution of personal boundaries Dissolution of personal boundaries
Fear of losing partner (perpetrator and victim) Fear of losing partner (perpetrator and sometimes victim) Separation is perceived as existential threat Re-enactment of perpetrator/victim
Addiction Abuse of addictive drugs (including alcohol) with direct impact on partnership and violent dynamic Abuse of addictive drugs (including alcohol) with impact on partnership and violent dynamic Abuse of addictive drugs has no direct impact for violent dynamic and partnership Abuse of addictive drugs (incl. alcohol) has no direct impact on partnership
Partner’s behaviour Victim stays in partnership Victim withdraws (smoothly) from partnership Both partners sustain partnership actively Both partners sustain partnership actively

Quantitative presentation of all interviews

Table 2: synopsis of conducted interviews

Violent dynamics in lesbian partnerships

Name/duration
of partnership
Perpetrator/victim dynamic Participant dynamic
Dynamic of
systematic,
repeated
assaults
Affect accented
dynamic
Care/power
intervowenness
Traumatized
partnership
Mechthild (2 months) X
Monika (3/4 yr) X
Kirsten (2,5 yrs) X
Sabine (10 yrs) X
Reinhild (2 yrs) X
Roswitha (1 yr) (X) X
Karin (1,5 yrs) (X) X
Romy (3 yrs) X
Monika (7 yrs) X
Juliane (3 yrs) X (X)
Maren (4 yrs) X (X)
Ilona (2 yrs) X (X)
Uschi (1 yrs) X
Bettina (4 yrs) X
Kordula (4 yrs) X

As this summarizing table shows, more participant than perpetrator/victim dynamics can be found. Some of them show both aspects of care intervowenness and traumatized partnership. Nevertheless there is a dominant dynamic shaping the relationship. This one is marked without brackets. Even though the sample is small, more interviews have been conducted and were analysed along the described model. Further, results have been presented as various international conferences. Discussions show that the developed model seems to be sustainable.

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