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 Professor Nicole Westmarland

Kelly, L. & Westmarland, N. (2016). Naming and defining ‘Domestic Violence’ lessons from research with violent men. Feminist Review 112(1): 113-127.

Author(s) from Durham


In this paper we draw on data from in-depth interviews with men who have used violence and abuse within intimate partner relationships to provide a new lens through which to view the conceptual debates on naming, defining and understanding ‘domestic violence’, as well as the policy and practice implications that flow from them. We argue that the reduction of domestic violence to discrete ‘incidents’ supports and maintains how men themselves talk about their use of violence, and that this in turn overlaps with contentions about the appropriate interventions and responses to domestic violence perpetrators. We revisit Hearn’s 1998 work The Violences of Men, connecting it to Stark’s later concept of coercive control, in order to develop and extend understandings of violence through analysis of the words of those who use it. We conclude by exploring the implications of these findings for recent legal reform in England and Wales and for policies on how we deal with perpetrators.