Card image cap
Card image cap

Young Adults’ Agency Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence and Supported by Use of the Life History Calendar

Annie Dumont, Geneviève Lessard, Pamela Alvarez-Lizotte, Anaïs Pellerin, Simon Lapierre

Research framework: This article is based on two studies of young adults who were exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) in childhood or adolescence. These studies focused on their life course and their views of intimate partner violence.

Objectives: The article documents the types of agency enacted by the young adults interviewed, through their life course. It also explores the extent to which the use of the Life History Calendar (LHC) in the research can help empower these young adults over the way they tell their stories.

Methodology: Semi-structured qualitative interviews, supported by the LHC, were conducted with 63 young people aged 18 to 25 who had been exposed to intimate partner violence. Their agency was analyzed using Hitlin and Elder’s (2007) typology.

Results: The identity agency strategies described by the participants relate largely to actions that allow them to protect themselves from violence in their daily life. The pragmatic agency and life course agency allowed them to face new situations and to project themselves into a better future. Their participation in the research is also part of their agentive strategies.

Conclusions: The retrospective view adopted by the participants leads them to describe the meaning they gave to the agentive strategies used to counter their experience with exposition to IPV and its short- and long-term consequences. In addition to generating new knowledge about exposition to IPV, the methodology used allows a reappropriation of their life story by young adults involved, who can explain the meaning of their actions or decisions.

Contribution: Considering young adults who have experienced exposure to IPV as actors in their life course contributes to giving them a voice and taking their points of view into account in the decisions that concern them.