9 May – Alfonso Sánchez-Moya

“Walking on eggshells, treated like crap, getting nothing out of the relationship”: metaphorical accounts of Intimate Partner Violence in online discourse

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is one of the most salient forms of abuse addressed against women (Heise, 1998). Global institutions have widely observed that “the overwhelming global burden of IPV is borne by women” (WHO, 2016), so much so that 1 in 3 (35%) women worldwide can be alleged to have experienced IPV in their lifetime (WHO, 2016). 

Prompted by institutional and social concerns around this social phenomenon, research on IPV has gradually increased in the last two decades. Not surprisingly, most studies tend to focus on areas that seem to be perceived as directly linked to IPV, which explains the frequent explorations from social, psychological, health and, more recently, legal sciences. Nonetheless, there is a paucity of research examining IPV from language perspectives. My current research seeks to fill this niche from a Critical Discourse Studies (CDS) approach, mostly interested in “opaque as well as transparent structural relationships of dominance, discrimination, power and control as manifested in language” (Wodak and Meyer, 2009:10).

Broadly speaking, my research project is looking at the differences in language use among three different communities within a publicly-accessible online forum that fosters communicative exchanges among women underdoing IPV. These communities are ‘Is it abuse?, ‘Getting Out’, and ‘Life after an abusive relationship. By doing so, I arguably establish a correlation between these three categories and different stages within an abusive relationship in the attempt to sketch out how the discursive output varies across these three stages. More specifically, I am looking at discursive mechanisms employed by these female users when they are referring to their perpetrators.

Having obtained preliminary results of these differences by applying text-analysis software (namely AntConc and LIWC) to a corpus consisting of 120,000 words (40,000 words per each of the above-mentioned categories), my research is now trying to account for the figurative mechanisms these online users employ when narrating their experiences with IPV, most of which would go unnoticed otherwise. For the purposes of this talk, and assisted by corpus-based inquiries, I will focus on the type of direct metaphors (Goatly, 1997; Steen et al., 2010) these women use to talk about themselves as victims/survivors of IPV, their perpetrators, and the violent event itself, particularly those explicitly signalled by so-called metaphor-flags such ‘like’, ‘as’, ‘seem’ or ‘appear’ (Steen et al., 2010).

Goatly, A. (1997). The Language of Metaphors: Literal MetaphoricalLondon: Routledge

Heise, L. (1998). Violence against women an integrated, ecological framework. Violence Against Women4(3), 262-290. doi: 10.1 177/1077801298004003002

Steen, G. J., Dorst, A. G., Herrmann, J. B., Kaal, A., Krennmayr, T., & Pasma, T. (2010). A method for linguistic metaphor identification: From MIP to MIPVU (Vol. 14). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.

Wodak, R. & Meyer, M. (2009). Methods for Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Sage

World Health Organization. (2016). Violence Against Women. Geneva: World Health Organization. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/ [Accessed 07/03/2017]

Potgieterszaal, University Library
Singel 421-427
1012 WP Amsterdam