PRESENTED BY: Dr Ang Jury, Refuge Manager, Volunteer, Teacher, Researcher, New Zealand

This presentation outlined the result of research conducted with a group of 25 women who had lived through abuse within their intimate relationships. The data, gathered through a series of semi-structured face-to-face interviews, were intended to elicit accounts of resilience but instead revealed stories saturated with emotion-talk, especially shame-talk. Examination of the concept of shame and analysis of the women’s stories through this conceptual lens led to an argument that women’s inability to ‘do’ motherhood or intimate partnership in line with dominant discourses of mothering and relationships (because these simply cannot be successfully achieved within an abusive context) opens them to the debilitating effects of shame. Shame, both actual and threatened, promotes silence, isolation and dangerous private spaces as women seek to protect themselves from its painful experience. Dr Jury argued that it is therefore crucial to promote the availability of discursive positioning for women living through abuse which offers non-shaming and realistic choices.

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