How do norms influence responses to violent behaviour in intimate relationships?
Non-physical abuse—whether emotional, psychological, or financial—is experienced within intimate relationships by approximately 14% of men and 25% of women in Australia. Yet many victims deny abuse and stay in abusive relationships. Research shows that victim stigma is a key reason for this.
Investigating how peoples’ beliefs around gender roles and romantic ideals influence the way they respond to abuse is important. My research aims to increase understanding of what constitutes non-physical intimate partner violence among victims, abusers, and members of the public. Such knowledge can be used to reduce victim blame, occurrence of domestic violence, and the barriers to leaving abusive relationships.
Not all abuse leaves bruises: learning to recognise non-physical violence too
Easy identification and appropriate response to intimate partner violence is crucial to reducing the prevalence of domestic abuse in our society. Physical abuse is often easy to identify but non-physical abuse is much subtler, though equally harmful.
Peoples’ endorsement of traditional gender and romantic norms may influence how they perceive and respond to abuse—whether of themselves or others. For example, young people may come to see obsessive and jealous behaviour as romantic based on depictions in popular culture, and therefore experience such non-violent abuse as signs of love rather than danger. By researching how perceived romantic norms influence peoples’ perceptions of and response to non-physical abuse within intimate relationships, we can inform education and intervention strategies to help victims leave abusive relationships.
Do benevolent sexism and the idealisation of jealousy predict romanticisation of abuse?
My research assesses how peoples’ endorsement of traditional gender and romantic norms affect their perceptions of non-physical intimate partner violence. Such norms are tapped using the Benevolent Sexism and Jealousy is Good scales. I aim to identify potential mediators that can be used in interventions to reduce victim stigma, romanticising or minimising of abusive behaviour, and non-physical intimate partner violence.
About Kiara Minto
I began my PhD at in 2016. My BA(Honours) at University of Queensland, was an extremely positive experience that cemented my interest in studying the impact of social groups, stereotypes, prototypes, and norms on perceptions of and responses to a range of social problems. More generally, I’m interested in how the way we think helps or hinders humankind’s progress towards equality and whether we can change that thinking to increase support for equality.
Intimate partner violence is a major contributor to injustice and inequality in our society. If we can change the way society thinks about domestic violence, we can also change the society reacts to it and thus reduce some of the challenges faced by victims. Ideally, we would also challenge the attitudes that allow abusers to develop.
Get in touch
Kiara is always happy to speak about her research. Potential speaking topics include:
- What non-physical intimate partner violence looks like and why it’s so harmful
- How gender and romantic norms influence peoples’ responses to physical and non-physical abuse
- Why victim stigma is so damaging and contributes to victims staying in abusive relationships longer
Articles written by Kiara for the Social Change Blog:
- The double standard of gender: Dynamics in the workplace and the home
- 4 things you need to know about coercive control in romantic relationships
- The surprisingly thin line between romance and abuse
- Domestic violence: What does it look like?
If you’re interested in having Kiara speak at an event or collaborating on research, please get in touch.