Toward a Frame-Based Theory of Abuse: An Ongoing Exploration

31 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2008  

Patricia Palmerton

Hamline University

Date Written: 2007


In this paper frame theory is applied to gain further understanding into the dynamics functioning in situations where there is domestic abuse. The communication dynamic evident in abusive situations is one where the abuser enacts control by using frame-shifting to enforce a paradigm that dictates that he control framing. Abusive frame-shifting prevents the target of abuse from being able to respond appropriately to the situation, because the meaning of the situation is changed through the imposition of a new frame. This dynamic has implications for understanding the difficulty targets have determining an appropriate response to the abuser, and for their exercise and sense of agency. Implications for understanding the role of framing in abusive dynamics at the societal level are noted.

Suggested Citation

Palmerton, Patricia, Toward a Frame-Based Theory of Abuse: An Ongoing Exploration (2007). IACM 2007 Meetings Paper. Available at SSRN: or

Patricia Palmerton (Contact Author)

Hamline University ( email )

1536 Hewitt Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55104
United States

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