Entrapment of Victims of Spousal Abuse in Ghana: A Discursive Analysis of Family Identity and Agency of Battered Women

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Adjei, S Baffour
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Drawing on discursive psychology and positioning theory, this study explores the influence of cultural and familial value orientations on battered women’s identity, agency, and decision to leave or stay in abusive conjugal relationship in Ghana. Two semi-structured focus group discussions and four in-depth personal interviews were conducted with 16 victims of husband-to-wife abuse from rural and urban Ghana. The findings indicate that entrapment of victims of spousal abuse in Ghana reflects their social embeddedness and that battered women’s identities and agency are expressed in the context of familial and cultural value orientations. The primacy of family identity and victims’ apparent implicit moral obligation to preserve the social image of their extended family influence their entrapment. Participants’ discursive accounts further suggest that stay or leave decisions of battered women in Ghana reflect a joint product of negotiated agency between victims and their extended family. It is thus argued that the agency of battered women in Ghana is not constituted by individual psychological states or motives, but instead, viewed as a property of victims who exercise it in a given relational context, and partly constituted by familial relationships and identities. the study suggests that intervention initiatives in Ghana should focus on the phenomenon of conjugal violence beyond immediate victims to include families and the larger communities in which victims are embedded
Adjei, S. B. (2017). Entrapment of victims of spousal abuse in Ghana: A discursive analysis of family identity and agency of battered women. Journal of interpersonal violence, 32(5), 730-754.