Arab battered women in Israel: How social and political contexts shape their experiences
Despite the abundant literature concerning domestic violence against women, very little is known about Arab battered women in Israel. This project uses qualitative methodology, a narrative approach in particular, to further the understanding of how cultural distinctions, such as militarism and the collective trauma of Al-Nakbah (the catastrophe) create a complex and multilayered entrapment for these women and their society. Using intersectionality of gender and race as the overall conceptual lens, this study revealed how Arab battered women in Israel are trapped in abusive relationships within a trapped society. The method involved conducting semi-structured interviews with 36 Arab women, who were either residents in women’s shelters or treated in family welfare centers, in different regions within Israel. The results of the current project are displayed onto two collimated dimensions. The first is related to women’s stories and experiences, and the second to the unspoken narrative of Arab society which was anthropomorphised in the participants’ discourses and described as ‘a battered woman’. On the first dimension, the results spread over three main areas: the personal, societal and political, which were presented in a complementary analysis that conceptualised the entrapment of Arab women. On the personal level, aside from voicing their experiences using their own words, the results showed that women’s major ways of coping with violence increased their likelihood of encountering fatal consequences through what I called ‘SSS’: standardisation of violence, seeking help and suicide attempts. On the societal level, the findings revealed how Arab society in Israel with its values, traditions and confusion over national identity negatively impacted on women’s experiences and delimited their options of seeking help. On the political level, the findings showed that not only were Arab women discriminated against by the state’s institutions regarding help options and resources, but Arab women were also left alone, unprotected in the face of potentially fatal revictimisation. On the second dimension of the results and through employing discourse analysis, I demonstrated how the participants narrated the story of their trapped society, where they depicted Arab society and its situation as similar to their own- as ‘a battered woman’. This similarity emphasised not only the interrelationship between the micro and macro levels in understanding violence against women, but also illustrated the impacts of the collective trauma, its ongoing consequences and the ways Arab society in Israel has been coping with it. The findings revealed that Arab society’s ways of dealing with its entrapment is through projecting its difficulties onto Arab women who serve as the society’s scapegoats. This process of projection not only narrowed Arab women’s entrapment, but also multiplied their oppressions, causing many to face life- threatening situations. This project presents a comprehensive and original insight for clinicians and professionals working with Arab battered women within and outside Israel. It also offers a deeper consideration of institutional roles and interventions in domestic violence on the individual as well as the societal level.
Advisor: Beres, Melanie; Gilmour, Fairleigh; Atwool, Nicola
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Arab; battered; women; in; Israel; Discourse analysis; Al-Nakbah; Narrative
Research Type: Thesis