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Conjugal, Domestic, and Structural Violence: Toward an Integrative Perspective of Knowledge

Geneviève Lessard, Lyse Montminy, Élisabeth Lesieux, Catherine Flynn, Valérie Roy, Sonia Gauthier, Andrée Fortin

Conjugal violence is a serious and persistent social problem; one-third of all women globally have been a victim of it. This article will discuss the empirical and theoretical links between conjugal, domestic, and structural violence. The article will start with a short background describing how conjugal violence has been shaped as a socio-criminal problem in Québec. It will then identify the primary knowledge gaps in the field, thereby demonstrating the need to better understand the complex links between conjugal, domestic, and structural violence, three concepts whose definitions could be enhanced and made mutually complementary. The article will stress the importance of considering the diverse realities faced by those involved in these types of violence (women, men, and children), focusing on a broad analysis that integrates not only individual and interpersonal factors but also social and structural factors, in particular oppression based on gender or other social identity markers. The discussion will be enhanced by theoretical models that describe various dynamics of conjugal and domestic violence, as well as by intersectional feminism, which has proved useful in analyzing structural violence. The conclusion will deal with the possible effects of analyzing links between conjugal, family, and structural violence on social policy and intervention programs for victims, committers, and children exposed to conjugal violence.