Romantic terrorism? An auto-ethnographic analysis of gendered psychological and emotional tactics in domestic violence

Sharon Hayes*, Samantha Jeffries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


This paper draws on the theoretical arguments outlined in Hayes (2014) to frame critical analyses of two real life domestic violence narratives. The authors are both academic criminologists and victims/survivors of domestic violence, but within differing contexts - one a conventional heterosexual relationship, the other a female same-sex relationship. Their experiences are intertwined in an extensive collaborative auto-ethnographic analysis that spans seven years of working and socializing together, in which each provided a sounding board and support for the other. The analysis therefore documents two personal journeys. Auto-ethnography is a methodology that "seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)" (Ellis, Adams, and Bochner, 2011). The methodological approach taken by the authors is analytic rather than evocative, in the sense that we focus on collaboratively analyzing our dual experiences, rather than simply narrating them. We occupy the dual role of researcher and researched, and turn our gaze both inward and outward (Olson, 2004: 6). The academic and theoretical are intertwined with the personal and subjective to elicit an evocative and yet empirically validated study. The theoretical underpinnings of romantic love distortion, misogyny and sexism are used to frame these experiences of domestic violence and the differing sexualities of the authors provide a rich context for exploring the ways in which domestic violence victimization experiences are impacted by gender, sexuality, and heteronormative discourses of love, sex and relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-61
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Research in Gender Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • auto-ethnography
  • coercive control
  • domestic violence
  • gaslighting
  • romantic love
  • victimization


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