This article draws on Foucauldian feminist theory to conceptualize separating from violent male partners by women as an act of resistance. Thus conceptualized, leaving takes on a new meaning as a strategy used by women to disrupt abusive power relations, but not necessarily to end their relationships. It is argued that attempts by women to transform their lives through separation needs to be located within a wider social context and that this context needs to analyzed from the vantage point of power. Such analysis points to post-separation identities and needs as significant sites of struggle between women and members of their social network. The exercise of power within these broader social contexts has important consequences for the effectiveness with which women can use separation to resist abusive male partners; hence, researchers and practitioners in the field need to pay much more attention to these relationships and the meanings given to abuse and leaving within these relationships.

Author Biography

Vivienne Elizabeth, Lecturer, Sociology, The University of Auckland, Auckland, Aotearoa, New Zealand