We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Prof Catherine Donovan

Donovan, Catherine & Barnes, Rebecca (2019). Help-seeking among lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender victims/survivors of domestic violence and abuse: the impacts of cisgendered heteronormativity and invisibility. Journal of Sociology

Author(s) from Durham


Many undergraduate students in the UK fall into age groups particularly at risk from
interpersonal violence. Recent evidence suggests a range of interpersonal violence is
part of the university experience for a significant number of students. In this article, we
report on the findings of an online survey of male and female students administered at
a university in the north of England in 2016 exploring experiences of interpersonal
violence during their time as a student. Focusing on the qualitative responses, 75
respondents, mostly women, wrote about their experiences of sexual violence. In
presenting women’s accounts, we challenge the construction of the ‘ideal victim’ who is
viewed as weak, passive and without agency or culpability (Christie, 1986). Women
adopt a range of strategies to actively resist men’s sexual violence. In doing so, they
challenge and problematise perpetrators’ behaviours particularly tropes that
communicate and forefront the heterosexual dating model of courtship. These findings
raise implications for women’s strategies of resistance to be viewed as examples of
social change where victim-blaming is challenged, perpetrator blaming is promoted
and femininity/victims are reconstructed as agentic. Universities must educate
students about sexual violence, dating and intimacy, as well as provide support for
victims of sexual violence.