Assault on self: Intimate partner abuse and the contestation of identity

Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson

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The complexities of intimate partner abuse and violence have been studied from a range of theoretical, conceptual, and methodological perspectives. It is argued here that symbolic interactionist analyses offer specific and powerful insights into this particular interactional domain. This article is based on data generated by a topical life-history case study of a well-educated, middle-class, middle-aged man, whose wife subjected him to sustained unilateral violence and abuse, resulting in deleterious consequences for his health and well-being. Data were gathered via a series of in-depth interviews and a personal diary. The analysis draws on Goffman's conceptualization of "possessional territory" as one of the "territories of the self," in order to examine the role of possessions in the interactional routines of intimate partner abuse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-127
Number of pages20
JournalSymbolic Interaction
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Erving Goffman
  • abused men
  • domestic violence
  • possessional territory
  • intimate partner abuse


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