‘He kept me safe’: a performance on intimate partner violence

'He kept me safe' is a project using the methodology of narrative portraiture to create a performance of qualitative research.

‘Narrative portraiture’ is a methodological approach to qualitative research. Creating a narrative portrait involves looking at the multiple sources of data researchers can consider when analysing the research encounter.

Narrative portraits can take many forms; they can be written pieces presented in traditional academic outlets (e.g. books and journal articles) and expansive formats such as art exhibitions, theatre plays and performances, film, and more. A narrative portrait is both an attempt to let participants ‘speak by themselves’ by using their own words, and an aesthetic effort to give a glimpse into the life of a person in a way that portrays the complexities of human life. 

Narrative, affective, embodied, and performative data can be used to create a focused account that describes a phenomenon or experience as told or written by an individual from the perspective of that individual. 

'He kept me safe is a performance' based on the research ‘Experiences of Scottish men who have been subject to intimate partner violence in same-sex relationships’ by Maxwell, O’Brien, and Stenhouse (2022), which aimed to inform policymakers, mental health professionals and other professionals working with gay, bisexual, and queer men on often ignored aspects of intimate partner violence in this population.

'He kept me safe' was devised through the methodology of ‘Narrative Portraits’ using verbatim material from the research interviews, which allowed to locate and operationalise the instances of intimate partner violence amongst the complexity of narrative data through a mapping process of the phenomena of interest.

In the various stages of development of this project, Narrative Portraits has been funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities through the Research Showcase Fund, the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities through the Spring into Methods programme, and the British Academy Early Career Researcher Network.