Knowing what I know now : black women talk about violence inside and outside the home

Kanyeredzi, Ava (2014) Knowing what I know now : black women talk about violence inside and outside the home. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


There is a notable gap in empirical studies on Black women’s lived experiences in the UK in general and of violence in particular. This thesis explores lived experiences of violence and abuse for nine African and Caribbean heritage women, including seeking help and receiving support, legacies for the body and encounters in public spaces that leave feelings of discomfort.

Fifteen participants were interviewed in total: six formed a sample of experts who work in violence support services, research and health services; and nine victim-survivors participated in a two or three stage life history interview process. The expert participants were given three case studies prior to taking part in semi-structured interviews to explore issues for African and Caribbean heritage women. During life history interviews research participants were invited to bring along personal photographs to assist with speaking about past experiences of violence and abuse, drew maps of their routes to seeking help, annotated diagrams of how they have related to their bodies over the years and produced photographs of spaces, places and objects of current importance to them.

The thesis mapped ways in women’s potential for participation in social life was delimited by violence and abuse, how their survival was premised on their skill in managing embodied burdens and through daily acts of self-renewal. The contribution to knowledge of this thesis are through the conceptual terms: ‘felt intensities‘; ‘a continuum of oppression’; ‘liminal displacement’; ‘a nugatory self’; ‘racialised gendered shame’; and ‘exhausting liminal rumination’ that describe the embodied burdens carried by African and Caribbean heritage women as knowers and to suggest meeting their needs within the everyday spaces they inhabit.

Further explorations are required into the intersectional features of women’s lives to explore whether African and Caribbean heritage women have voice and visibility in policy, whether and how their needs are met and for this to influence the commissioning of services.

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