HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Domestic Abuse and the Public / Private Divide in the British Military

Article

This article employs narratives of domestic abuse as a window through which to analyse enactments of the public/private divide in the British military and the impacts of this upon victim-survivors’ help-seeking experiences.

Abstract

Divisions between the social spheres of public and private are always fluid, mutually constitutive, and politically and socially formulated. Within the British military, such divisions are further framed through the needs of operational effectiveness. In the pursuit of operational effectiveness the public/private divide functions at times as porous, in large part through the military's provision of services such as housing, welfare and policing to personnel and their families and through the notion of a close-knit military community, and at others as firm, bolstering operational effectiveness through recourse to militarised ideas of the private sphere as the fixed space of hearth, home and femininity which is to be protected by military force. This article employs narratives of domestic abuse as a window through which to analyse enactments of the public/private divide in the British military. The analysis draws upon interview participants' experiences of abuse and of help-seeking to illustrate the complex and fluid ways in which the prioritisation of operational effectiveness frames and delimits the public and the private within the contemporary British military in relation to domestic abuse. The impacts of this upon victim-survivors' help-seeking experiences are discussed.

Full Reference

Gray, H., (2016). 'Domestic abuse and the public / private divide in the British military. Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography. 23 (6), 912-925.