Portraying the Male Abuser in Contemporary Women’s Fiction


  • Fatmah Al Thobaiti Taif University




intimate partner violence, contemporary fiction, feminist theory, covert emotional abuse


Newspaper headlines show that awareness of intimate partner violence is a complicated issue that needs further examination. Works of fiction narrated by women trapped in abusive relationships are useful sites for the exploration of what intimate partner violence usually includes, and the identification of subtle behaviours that can be defined as violent and abusive but usually go unnoticed. This article submits two contemporary works of fiction, First Love and the Fifty Shades series, for a study of the covert mechanisms of emotional abuse. To understand such mechanisms, the article engages with feminist as well as postfeminist contemporary thinking on intimate partner violence. The analysis shifts the focus back to the male abuser by carefully depicting how he uses under-recognized, gendered forms of power to abuse his partner. The aim is to elucidate the capacity of first-person narratives to allow access to the abused woman’s mind, while simultaneously provoking questions about the abusers’ behaviours, making them a more powerful tool for understanding intimate partner violence than a newspaper report.


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31. 12. 2022

How to Cite

Al Thobaiti, F. (2022). Portraying the Male Abuser in Contemporary Women’s Fiction. ELOPE: English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries, 19(2), 197-210. https://doi.org/10.4312/elope.19.2.197-210