Catherine Donovan

European Conference on Domestic Violence

Catherine Donovan is Professor of Sociology and Head of the Sociology Department at Durham University. She has researched the intimate and family lives of lesbians, gay men, bisexual women, and men, and, more recently trans+ folk for over twenty years. For most of that time her focus has been on their victimisation through, and perpetration of domestic abuse including sexual violence. She conducted the first study anywhere comparing love and violence in heterosexual and ‘same-sex’ relationships with Prof Marianne Hester (Donovan and Hester 2014); and the first study focussing on the use of violence and abuse by LGB and/or T+ people with Dr Rebecca Barnes (Donovan and Barnes 2020). She has collaborated with colleagues in Australia on some of the first research exploring the link between domestic abuse in LGB and/or T+ relationships and the abuse of companion animals. Catherine is currently working with the Drive Project in the UK on developing best practice for working with perpetrators of domestic abuse who are LGB and/or T+. More recently, Catherine has begun to research hate incidents/crime and, with colleagues, has drawn on the conceptual work behind coercive control in domestic abuse to describe hate relationships where perpetrators who live near those they victimise, repeatedly enact hate incidents with profound impacts for their mental and physical health and wellbeing. Catherine has also conducted research on student victimisation by violence and abuse, student and community active bystander interventions and Higher Education responses to students’ victimisation. 

Bringing Minorities into the Mainstream: Contributions of feminist research into domestic abuse in the relationships of LGB and/or T+ people to field

Intersectional feminists make the case that understanding domestic abuse cannot only rely on a gender-based analysis: structural inequalities based on ‘race’, social class, ability and capacity, age, citizenship status must be included to understand victimisation and help-seeking. Yet often the findings and conceptual development resulting from research with minoritised communities is perceived to have relevance only for those communities.  Donovan and Hester (2014) argue that a public story of domestic abuse constructs the problem of domestic abuse as a problem of the physical violence of big, ‘strong’, cisgendered, heterosexual men for the small, ‘weak’, cisgendered heterosexual woman. Women who perpetrate, men who are victimised, those not experiencing physical violence, those who are not cisgendered and/or heterosexual are rendered invisible. I make the argument that findings from research on domestic abuse in the relationships of LGB and/or T+ people have relevance beyond these communities.

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