Violence in Young Adults’ Relationships
: Coercive Control and Love

  • Donna Clutterbuck

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis details the first qualitative study in the United Kingdom looking specifically at coercive control and love within the relationships of young adults aged 18-25 with some comparison up to the age of 35. The purpose of this study was to determine whether coercive control is apparent in young adults' relationships and whether coercive control and love intertwine in these relationships. This is situated within and builds upon previous literature relating to violence against women and girls, and more specifically, violence within the relationships of younger people.

One focus of feminist research since the 1970s has been violence against women. In comparison, violence in the relationships of younger people in the United Kingdom has not been given the same amount of consideration.
While research into domestic violence undertaken in the United Kingdom tends to be qualitative, the bulk of the research examining abuse in younger people’s relationships has been based in the United States, where quantitative methods are more commonly used.

Thirteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with females and males aged between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. Additionally, secondary analysis of COHSAR twenty-one interview transcripts with participants aged 18-34 was employed. Research was conducted from a feminist perspective.

Findings demonstrate that love and coercive control do intertwine within the relationships of young adults and coercive control is gendered. But, the originality in this study lies in the finding that this idea of love between victims and perpetrators in these abusive relationships went alongside fear, guilt and responsibility, preventing young adults from leaving.
Date of Award19 Mar 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorMarianne Hester (Supervisor) & Christine Barter (Supervisor)

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