Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Committee Chair/Advisor

Cynthia Haynes

Committee Member

Kyle Jensen

Committee Member

Walt Hunter

Committee Member

Heidi Zinzow


In this dissertation, I posit that intimate partner violence is entrenched in an often-overlooked historical and rhetorical legacy of patriarchal cultural, structural, and direct violences. Many scholars in and outside of rhetorical studies have analyzed and critiqued public representations of trauma and violence, including intimate partner violence. Joining this conversation, I focus on the limitations in the ways influential rhetorical domains both represent and respond to people who abuse their intimate partners. Often, mass media represents people who abuse their intimate partners as individuals void of contexts. Similarly, the criminal justice system holds individuals responsible through law enforcement and incarceration. My dissertation complicates this individualist perspective by focusing on the ecologies that move people to intimate partner violence. More so, I use a rhetorical and interdisciplinary approach to posit that patriarchy and trauma move people to intimate partner violence.

While law enforcement, criminal justice, and intervention groups are the primary means to prevent intimate partner violence, I elaborate the efficacy and promises of restorative justice. While I consider restorative justice in context of tertiary prevention, I also consider restorative justice in context of primary and secondary prevention, which seeks to prevent intimate partner violence from happening in the first place. To prevent intimate partner violence, research, response, and influential rhetorical domains must bear witness to and mourn histories of patriarchal and domestic violences, including the cultures and institutions that maintains the conditions for intimate partner violence. Examining not only what moves people to abuse their partners but also how we represent and respond to violence is a scholarly obligation if we wish to move toward preventing the startling rates of intimate partner violence.



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