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Violence Against Women
http://vaw.sagepub.com/content/13/6/549
The online version of this article can be found at:

DOI: 10.1177/1077801207301556
2007 13: 549 Violence Against Women
Pam Lowe, Cathy Humphreys and Simon J. Williams
Domestic Violence
Night Terrors : Women's Experiences of (Not) Sleeping Where There Is

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What is This?

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549
Authors Note: Our thanks go to the women who shared their stories with us and the organizations that
granted us access. We would also like to thank Agnes Skamballis for help with the fieldwork.
Violence Against Women
Volume 13 Number 6
June 2007 549-561
2007 Sage Publications
10.1177/1077801207301556
http://vaw.sagepub.com
hosted at
http://online.sagepub.com
Night Terrors
Womens Experiences of (Not) Sleeping
Where There Is Domestic Violence
Pam Lowe
Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Cathy Humphreys
University of Melbourne, Australia
Simon J. Williams
University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom
The management of sleep is embedded within the social context of individuals lives. This
article is based on an exploratory study using focus groups of the sleep problems encoun-
tered by 17 women survivors of domestic violence. It argues that fear becomes the orga-
nizing framework for the management of sleep and illustrates how this takes place both
while living with the perpetrators of violence and after the women have been rehoused.
It argues that sleep deprivation is a method used by the perpetrators to exert control over
women and that this has long-term implications for womens physical and mental health.
Keywords: domestic violence; fear; sleep
S
leep is something we all do on a daily or nightly basis, some more successfully
than others. How we sleep, when we sleep, where we sleep, what we make of
sleep, and with whom we sleep are all important social issues. It is only relatively
recently, however, that sociologists have started to pay sleep the proper attention it
deserves, both as a rich and fascinating topic in its own right and as a new way of
approaching or accessing social processes, social roles, and social relations across
the publicprivate divide (Hislop & Arber, 2003; Williams, 2001, 2002, 2005).
For example, Hislop and Arbers (2003) study has shown how the gendered roles
and responsibilities of midlife women as partners, workers, and carers structure the
quality of their sleep. They argue that women often have a reduced right to undis-
turbed sleep because of their gendered status. Williams (2005) has added to our
understanding of the gendered nature of sleep by illustrating how mens sleep is also
structured by their waking lives and that certain forms of masculinity may compro-
mise mens sleep.
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550 Violence Against Women
Sleep, from this perspective, is far from simply a biological given or an asocial
event. The doing of sleep or sleeping, for example, alerts us to the meanings,
methods, motives, and management of sleeping in everyday or everynight life (Taylor,
1993). This includes both pre- and postsleep rituals and routines that facilitate passing
both into and out of the sleep role (Schwartz, 1970; Williams, 2005). As an embodied
and embedded state, moreover, sleep renders us acutely vulnerable given the loss of
waking consciousness involved. This, in turn, suggests that for us to sleep soundly, we
need to feel safe and secure. Sleep, in other words, is intimately bound up with emo-
tion, trust, and ontological (in)security: a relationship that pre- and postsleep rituals
and routines themselves mediate and modify.
If this is true of sleep in general, then these embodied vulnerabilities, one might
expect, are writ large in the case of domestic violence. To sleep or not to sleep, that
is surely the question. On one hand, a focus on sleep has the potential to cast impor-
tant new light on an underexplored area of domestic violence. On the other hand, a
focus on domestic violence has the potential to cast important new light on sleep. To
date, however, this relationship has yet to be fully explored in an explicit way.
Although there has been recognition that sleep disturbances are often evident in
families where there is domestic violence (Mullender et al., 2002; Humphreys and
Thiara, 2003), this finding tends to emerge within studies with a different focus.
Consequently, although some of the parameters of the issues have been mapped,
little is recorded on sleep issues per se.
Health studies have tried to ascertain the prevalence and implications of
domestic violence on sleep patterns. For example, Hathaway and colleagues (2000)
population-based health survey found that 53% of women reporting partner violence
had experienced problems getting enough sleep in comparison to 28% of women
who did not report violence. Broakaw and colleagues (2002) found that nightmares
were a particular problem. In a recent study of general practitioners in Australia,
doctors stated that abused women often initially attended surgery complaining of
sleeping disorders (Taft, Broom, & Legge, 2004).
Womens own disturbed sleep may also be related to sleep disturbances in their
children. Studies have documented sleep disturbances in children while they are liv-
ing in a household where their mothers are subjected to abuse (e.g., Lemmy,
McFarlane, Willson, & Malecha, 2001) but also found that sleep problems may con-
tinue after they have been resettled (Mertin & Mohr, 2002). Taken together, this ear-
lier literature has begun to map links between domestic violence and sleep but has
not yet detailed the forms it may take.
This article focuses on how fear becomes the organizing principle in womens
sleep, both while they remained living with perpetrators and after they had left.
Following an outline of the methodology, the article begins by showing the danger
of being asleep and how the women incorporated safety strategies into the place,
time, and amount they allowed themselves to sleep while they were living with vio-
lent partners. It will then illustrate how strategies changed after they had been
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rehoused. Despite this, however, women continued to have sleep disruptions linked
to their previous experiences of violence. Finally, it will show how the constraints on
sleep had a detrimental impact on the womens physical and mental health.
Method
This article is based on an exploratory study carried out in the United Kingdom
with 17 women, which sought to examine the interrelationship between domestic
violence and sleep. Three different womens groups for survivors of domestic vio-
lence gave permission for focus groups to be held. As Green and Thorogood (2004)
have argued, recruiting preexisting groups for focus groups is an advantage when the
topic is sensitive, and these groups are useful for uncovering shared understandings
of particular issues. Access was negotiated using existing networks of contacts. The
women attending the groups were given information about the project beforehand to
ensure informed consent, and so the sample was self-selected rather than represen-
tative. At the beginning of each focus group, the women were given time to ask ques-
tions and were asked if they were still happy to participate. They all signed a written
consent form. In total, 16 women attended the focus groups, and one in-depth inter-
view was carried out with a woman who could not attend a focus group.
All but one of the women had separated from their violent partners, and although
one group was held with 5 women still living in a refuge, the other two groups con-
tained mostly women who had been rehoused. Their accounts, therefore, contain
both discussion of their current sleeping patterns as well as retrospective reflections
about the past abuse they suffered and the impact they perceived it had on sleep. The
participants ages ranged from 23 to 46 years, and 14 of the women were mothers,
although 2 of them did not have their children living with them. Full demographic
data were not sought from the women, so their social class and ethnicity cannot be
reported. This article focuses on womens sleep problems and does not discuss the
relationships between womens and childrens sleep disturbances, which will be
explored in a subsequent article.
The focus groups varied in length from 30 minutes to nearly 2 hours. The three
main topics of the focus groups were the organization and management of sleep;
constraints on sleep; and sleep, risk, and safety. These themes were broadly inter-
preted and the womens lead was followed in defining and discussing the different
issues. All the focus groups were held in a private room on the premises of the sup-
port organization or refuge. Permission was given to audio-record the focus groups
and the interview. The data were analyzed thematically aided by Nvivo qualitative
software. Initially, the analysis was guided by the focus group topics and broad top-
ics such as data relating to children, but as coding developed, theoretical themes
emerged that were tested against the rest of the data. Pseudonyms are used to pro-
tect the identities of the women.
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Using Taylors (1993) notion of doing sleep, we have begun to explore how the
management and constraints on sleep that women living with domestic violence face
are related to their social situation. The interrelationship between domestic violence
and sleep develops our understanding of how power relationships are constructed
and reconstructed through control of sleep and broadens our understanding of
womens experiences of domestic violence more generally.
The Risks of Sleep
All of the women made adjustments to their sleeping patterns or arrangements in
relation to the threat of violence with which they lived on a day-to-day basis. Being
asleep while the perpetrator was awake was seen as an extremely risky course of
action. Four of the women did report being attacked as they slept, and their stories
starkly illustrate the risks involved. Rachel, for example, experienced the most vio-
lent physical assault, which left her needing plates in her jaw:
I was lying in bed and I was nodding off and the next thing I knew, like, . . . I thought he
was getting into bed with me. . . . He just picked up [indicates lamp] like that [raises fists]
and without warning smashed it into my face. And started calling me all the names under
the sun and all that. . . . And then, obviously, then I felt then like the blood . . . (Rachel)
Two of the women were sexually assaulted. One was pulled out of bed to have
sex, and the other was raped while she slept. In the latter case, Clare was on med-
ication for a chronic condition that left her heavily sedated. After she was raped, she
stopped taking the tablets, making her condition worse.
As these accounts illustrate, being asleep posed a serious risk to the womens
safety. Although the risk of violence was a constant in these womens lives, it was
felt that being asleep was particularly dangerous as ones guard was down and
there was little possibility of being able to use strategies that increased their safety.
This context of risk left women feeling that going to sleep was unwise.
Sleeping Strategies
Women living with domestic violence usually adopt a range of different strategies
to try to minimize the risks from violent partners. This section will illustrate some
of the different ways that the women tried to manage their sleep while maximizing
their safety. It will show the extent to which fear dominated their (non)sleeping lives.
Staying Awake
Most of the women reported that they needed to ensure that they were awake at
times when there was a risk of violence. For some of the women, this meant being
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awake all the time that the perpetrator was in the house, whereas others allowed
themselves to sleep only when the perpetrator was asleep. These two strategies are
illustrated in the following accounts:
I used to on occasion sleep in the day. Just so that Id be . . . even if I used to sleep in
a bed next to him, Id be awake because I didnt know when like . . . (Jo)
I used to wait to make sure that he was asleep before thinking about like trying to sleep
myself. (Jenny)
My partner worked night work. But he used to come in, in the early hours of the morn-
ing if he finished early. So I would never really know. So Id . . . for a few hours of a
night Id have a deepish sleep. And then as it got that he could have come in early then
I would be awake or in a very light sleep. And I think that was in anticipation of what
sort of mood he would come in. And if I was awake, I could be prepared to anticipate
and step around any issues that might be in his behavior. (Judy)
For some women, this strategy involved more complex arrangements of their
lives. Lisas partner worked in the evenings. He generally arrived home at approx-
imately 11:00 p.m. and would drink heavily before falling asleep. She had worked
out that taking half of one of her prescribed sleeping pills would give her approx-
imately 3 hours of sleep. So she used to take half a tablet at about 6:30 p.m. and
set her alarm to wake her at half past 10 p.m. She usually left the house and
returned when she felt he would be asleep. She would then go back to bed but
generally slept lightly, waking at any movement from her partner.
As these accounts illustrate, fear of violence forced many of the women to alter
their sleeping patterns to maximize their safety. They tried to stay awake at dan-
gerous times and to catch up with some sleep at times when it would be safer. A
few of the women had tried pretending to be asleep, but this was not considered a
successful strategy:
You would pretend to be asleep, then you would have to pretend to wake up. Either way
it would be better to be awake, trying to figure out what he wanted or what he was
going to do next. (Susan)
I have feigned sleep several times. . . . It didnt help, it just made him more angry. . . .
It just seemed if I was asleep it was wrong. If I was awake it was wrong. . . . And I think
youre just so tired that you just want to be able to rest and go to sleep. But even when
you are trying to rest youre not able to do that. You anticipate something happening
because youve got to be semi-awake to be prepared for it. (Judy)
As this last account illustrates, although altering sleep patterns was often used by
these women, they were not always chosen by them. For some perpetrators,
womens being asleep was a sufficient reason for violence, and enforcing sleep
deprivation was another method of control.
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Sleeping Places
As well as altering the times when they slept, some of the women slept in differ-
ent places to feel safer. The women rarely felt safe sleeping next to their violent part-
ners, so rather than lie awake, they would try to sleep somewhere else in the house.
I was very often frightened. When my partner was there I would be so frightened of
him that I would . . . go and get into bed with one of my children. (Judy)
I used to sleep right on the edge of the bed; sometimes I would sleep on the sofa or let
the children sleep with me. (Susan)
However, although these strategies may have offered some respite, they were
never going to be long-term solutions. While they were living with domestic vio-
lence, being asleep increased their vulnerability, and whether they changed their
sleep patterns or places, the need to be on guard remained.
Being on Guard
Living with a constant anticipation of violence meant that the women felt that
they needed to remain vigilant at all times. Consequently, they were more likely to
allow themselves to rest than to actually sleep:
Id lay on the settee for 10 minutes. I could rest my body first and my mind would still
be aware of everything that was going on around me. Hearing everything and I knew
where they [the children] were sitting or wherever. Whereas it kind of like felt like I
was doing that all the time if you get what I mean. Even though I might be lying down
I could still be listening for what noise or keys or whatever, depending on what was
going on at the time. (Jenny)
That experience of resting . . . And although you kind of are in the sleep mode, youre
aware of everything thats going on. You can hear conversations that are happening. So
youve not gone to complete sleep . . . but you can feel yourself resting. . . . I experi-
enced that. (Clare)
As these accounts illustrate, the women felt a pressing need to remain vigilant
despite their bodys need for sleep. Allowing their bodies to relax while trying to
remain sufficiently alert to be able to sense any changes was considered a safer option
than going to sleep. Moreover, living with the constant anticipation of violence left the
women unable to switch off. Clare described this as a fear of sleeping too deeply.
She stated that the more tired she became, the more she felt it would be dangerous to
sleep, as she was frightened that she would not sense danger signals in her sleep.
Although all of the women used different strategies to be able to get some sleep
while limiting the risks of violence, it was clear that in most cases the women were
suffering from sleep deprivation. The extent to which this was another strategy of
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deliberate control by perpetrators cannot be accurately assessed, but it did increase
the womens vulnerability. Moreover, the womens sleeping problems continued
long after they had separated from their violent partners.
Restoring Sleep
Despite having left their violent partners, in some cases 5 or 6 years earlier, it was
clear that sleep problems remained a feature of these womens lives. In most cases
their sleep problems eased after time, but for many of them the threat of violence
remained as an ongoing undercurrent to their lives.
Remaining Vigilant
In the early days of leaving the violent partner, women felt an overwhelming need
to remain on guard. Some of the women had spent time in a refuge before being
rehoused, whereas others had remained living at home. For some, the danger was all
too real, as Ruths story illustrates:
When my kids dad left he put a petrol bomb through the window and burnt the place
down. Not burnt the place down, but set fire to it. Then when he couldnt come round,
he sent his mates round. And I used to have to sleep fully clothed with a hammer, theyd
come and break in the house. And then I couldnt sleep. (Ruth)
Even when the women were not attacked again, they remained vigilant, fearing that
they would be attacked, and they often continued to adopt safer sleeping strategies:
I have slept downstairs . . . because then I know I could watch the front door or be
aware of any noises of him breaking into the house. And that would be the early stages
of being on my own and knowing that he was very angry that Id gone. So I was quite
frightened of breaking into the house. (Judy)
Since I left the relationship, thats when I started having problems sleeping. I am scared
that he will come back and hurt us. I sleep on the settee and my daughter usually sleeps
with me. We do not use the back of the house. (Carla)
As these accounts illustrate, the need to remain on guard continued after the
women separated from violent partners. Moreover, even when they began to feel
safer overall, they felt the violence continued to affect their sleep. This fear was
exacerbated when women had been rehoused in difficult areas. Clare, for example,
described how the poor soundproofing in the flats where she lived meant that she
could hear loud voices, keys in locks, and doors slamming on a nightly basis. These
noises prevented her from relaxing sufficiently to sleep well, as these were all sounds
for which she needed to be alert while she was living with her violent partner.
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Sleep Quality
Whereas many of the women restricted their sleep because of their ongoing fear
of violence, others reported that when they did manage to sleep, they had ongoing
problems. Susan, for example, stated,
I sleep like a tight ball. My hands are stiff from when I hold onto the edge of the bed.
I still do this because I used to hold on from when he would throw me out of the bed
because he wanted me to wake up so that he could have sex. (Susan)
Other women reported similar problems of aching limbs or teeth grinding, which
they related to sleeping tightly following the abuse.
Many of the women reported how their sleep quality and quantity improved after
time, but issues could arise that triggered sleep problems again. For example, their
childrens sleep problems, court cases, child contact with a violent partner, and news
of parole of an ex-partner were reported as adversely affecting the womens sleep.
Some of the women reported bad dreams, including hearing or seeing their ex-partner.
Although in most cases the triggers for renewed sleeping problems were directly
related by the women to these types of reminders of the violence, or potential contact,
sometimes they arose with no apparent link. Consequently, few of the women thought
that their sleep would ever be completely separated from their experiences of violence.
Impact on Health
Most of the women reported that they had spent considerable periods of time with
the quality and quantity of their sleep restricted, and they felt the impact on their health
and well-being had been significant. This section looks first at the links they made
between poor sleep and their physical health before examining the impact of sleep
deprivation on their ability to cope with both the violence and the rebuilding their lives.
Physical Problems
Although it is difficult to make direct links between the womens lack of sleep
and physical problems, they all felt that their lack of sleep did lead to a range of
physical health problems. Symptoms reported included being run down; aching all
over; having migraines and/or headaches, raised blood pressure, and digestive prob-
lems; and being more susceptible to other illnesses, such as flu. In some cases, the
symptoms were very severe, as Judy describes:
Physically from lack of sleep and the constant stress did make me ill. I didnt want to
acknowledge that I was ill. I just felt that I was lazy. Because that is what Id been told.
That I was a lazy person . . . umm . . . And my GP actually sent me to see a consultant
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and I have had blood tests and checked everything out and the only result was that there
was a possibility that I had ME [myalgic encephalomyelitis] or acute fatigue syndrome.
And some days I am so tired that Im almost stumbling with tiredness. Umm . . . And
my words are slurred because of the fatigue. So in a way thats really had quite a detri-
mental effect on me. (Judy)
Judy believed that sleep deprivation was one of the reasons she developed acute
fatigue syndrome. Clare developed fibromyalgia, a condition for which sleep prob-
lems have been suggested as a possible cause (Doherty & Jones, 1995) but, as
described earlier, was unable to take the prescribed medication because it made her
too sleepy and vulnerable to attack. Consequently her symptoms were exacerbated.
As women faced increased physical health problems, in combination with the
sleep deprivation and the ongoing violence, their ability to manage their situation
became increasingly difficult.
Ability to Cope
Many of the women described how the lack of sleep affected their ability to cope
with the violence. Judys description is typical of the way these women felt:
Because you just dont have any energy. If youre alert and then . . . and your body
responses are quick and your mind is clear . . . but if youre tired youre just constantly
drained the whole time, youre slower, youre not so alert. So then you end up feeling that
you are stupid because youre not as quick to think. Not as quick to answer and respond
to any issues. Because youre just basically fighting this constant fatigue. (Judy)
For some of the women, their ability to cope was compounded by the use of alco-
hol or street drugs. One of the women used speed to keep herself awake, whereas
two others had used alcohol to try to get some sleep. However, although these strate-
gies seemed to offer short-term respite, in the long term it compounded their prob-
lems, as Lisa relates:
Id say it was different because I chose alcohol to block it out. Which because of the
flashbacks and what hed done, I just wanted to block it out completely. The need to
sleep. But obviously it doesnt work with alcohol. It disturbs your sleep as well. And itd
be still there. But that did go on for quite a long time. And obviously I dont blame him
for the alcohol bit, but it was my way of dealing with it at the time. But I would say he
contributed to it. I just couldnt block it out any other way. I couldnt sleep. Like you
say, your mind goes overdrive. And you know you just cant sleep. . . . Waking up . . . it
was just pictures in your head. (Lisa)
For these women, the effects of sleep deprivation added an extra burden to their dif-
ficult lives. Sleep deprivation was felt to both produce health problems and exacerbate
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others, such as colds or digestive problems. The women recognized that this was
through a complex interrelationship that had a detrimental effect on their physical
health and ability to cope.
Discussion
Taking as our point of departure the neglected sociological matter of sleep in gen-
eral, and the gendered doing of sleeping in particular, this article has sought to cast
valuable new light on womens experiences of domestic violence. The trials and
tribulations of sleep, we have shown, constitute yet another dimension of domestic
violence, which itself carries important costs and consequences for womens own
self-reported health status and ability to cope.
Our study, in this respect, highlights a number of important issues. First, the
womens narratives bring into sharp relief the connection between sleep deprivation
and the establishment of a regime of power and control by one person over another
the hallmark of domestic violence. It has been argued elsewhere that the strategies for
establishing a regime of domination, whether in a prisoner-of-war camp (Timerman,
1988), among hostages (Hearst, 1982), or in the domestic sphere (Pence & Paymar,
1990), are common and, some might argue, universal (Herman, 1992). Within these
regimes, sleep deprivation consistently features. At the extreme, it is regularly used as
an instrument in the arsenal of weapons used by torturers. In fact, it was the repeated
mentioning of sleep deprivation by those prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay
and Abu Ghraib (see, e.g., Gellman & Smith, 2004) that raised for us as researchers
working in the areas of the sociology of sleep and domestic violence, respectively, that
this was an issue to be addressed. We were aware that accounts of sleep deprivation by
survivors are often mentioned but rarely highlighted. Domestic violence as a form of
intimate terrorism (Johnson & Ferraro, 2000) becomes accurate terminology when
these micropractices and their effects are explicated.
Second, women reported strategies that showed they were far from passive in the
face of the attempts by the abuser to control them. Their accounts of forging a variety
of sleeping strategies designed to manage these problems and snatch sleep, when and
where possible, provide evidence of the nature of power relations and the ever-present
potential for resistance (Weedon, 1997), even in the face of the extreme tactics of dom-
ination. It needs to be reiterated that 16 of the 17 women had managed to escape to
refuges and alternative housing. Although the necessity of this step may seem obvious
when reading their reflections on the extent of the abuse with which they were living,
the extraordinary difficulties involved in making the move in the face of this form of
intimate terrorism can be appreciated when cognizance is taken of the fact that sleep
deprivation is part of a regime to establish a docile and powerless victim.
Third, sleep in general raises important existential questions of embodied vulner-
ability. We are all clearly vulnerable when we sleep, given the loss of waking
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consciousness involved. Emotions, trust, and feelings of ontological (in)security
therefore play a crucial role in facilitating or impeding our sleep. If we are feeling
anxious, frightened, or insecure, if we are stressed or traumatized, if we cannot place
our faith or trust in others around us, then our sleep will inevitably suffer. So, too, in
circumstances of chronic sleep deprivation, will our mental and physical health sta-
tus and our ability to cope or function suffer. Sleep, emotions, and health, in short,
are intimately related.
There are also a number of policy and practice implications that arise when recog-
nition is given to the role that sleep deprivation or disruption plays in the strategies of
domination to which some domestic violence survivors are subjected. At one level,
there has been too little attention to sleep deprivation in the context of domestic vio-
lence. The problematic sleep so often reported by survivors to their advocates needs to
be recognized within the movement to support survivors as both an issue with a dis-
tressing individual impact as well as a broader political issue. The processes through
which power and control are established by one person are also part of a more general,
albeit extreme, way through which gender inequality is maintained in the context of
interpersonal relations. The politics of sleep are retained when problematic sleep is
not reified from the abusive context in which such patterns arose but understood within
the broader regime of domination and the resultant trauma.
Understanding this broader context has clear implications for health intervention.
As already mentioned, women often present to their physicians with sleep problems
rather than problems of abuse (Hathaway et al., 2000). A response that attends only to
the sleep problems through medication fails to assess either the nature of the prob-
lem or the required intervention. Herman (1992) and others who intervene with torture
victims (e.g., Turner, 2000) argue that safety commences with a focus on control of the
body and gradually moves to control of the environment. Reestablishing bodily
integrity through basic attention to health needs and the regulation of bodily functions
such as sleep, eating, and exercise are basic first steps in a complex trauma interven-
tion (Herman, 1992).
The provision of such intervention, which recognizes both the womans resilience
and the long-term nature of the mental and physical recovery that may be required, is
scarce. In the United Kingdom, few survivors have access to either appropriate coun-
seling or group work that provides them with the psychological safety through which
to reestablish their sense of identity and trust (Abrahams, 2004). Placing this within
the context of their physical health needs highlights the considerable resources
required if more effective intervention is to be made available for survivors.
Conclusion
The case of domestic violence provides a possibly extreme example not simply
of the gendered doing, or perhaps more correctly undoing, of sleeping but of
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what more broadly may be termed the gendered politics of sleep. Sleep, it is clear,
is a basic human right and resource. Women, in this respect, may well be disadvan-
taged in terms of their right to sleep or their access to the sleep role, given the domes-
tic division of labor and the general problems that sleeping together may pose (cf.
Hislop & Arber, 2003). The interrelationship between domestic violence and sleep
nonetheless extends these insights in important new ways, highlighting how power
relationships are constructed and reconstructed in and through the control of sleep,
thereby broadening our understanding of womens experience of domestic violence
in particular and the gendered politics of sleep in general. It also, of course, connects
to a broader series of violations and abuses of this basic human right to sleep through
interrogation, torture, and punishment of various sorts around the globe. Sleep, in
this respect, may well be a great leveller, but it is also something that divides as
well as unites us: a universal human need or imperative and an existential index of
(in)security, (in)equality, and (in)justice across the publicprivate divide.
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Pam Lowe is a lecturer in sociology in the School of Languages and Social Sciences, Aston University.
She has a broad interest in womens health, including reproductive health and domestic violence. She is
also currently engaged in work on the sociology of sleep.
Cathy Humphreys is a professor of Child and Family Welfare at University of Melbourne. She has under-
taken research in the specialist area of domestic violence with projects focused on children, mental health,
substance use, and the Human Rights Framework.
Simon J. Williams is a professor of sociology, University of Warwick. His recent work has centered on
the sociology of sleep, including a new book, Sleep and Society: Sociological Ventures into the
(Un)Known (Routledge, 2005), and a new Economic and Social Research Council Sleep and Society
seminar series (www.warwick.ac.uk/go/sleepandsociety).
Lowe et al. / Night Terrors 561
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