A Phenomenological Study of Perpetrator–Survivor Accounts of Intimate Partner Violence among University Students in South Africa





femicide, masculinity, South Africa, students, intimate partner violence (IPV), survivors


South Africa has one of the highest rates of intimate partner violence and femicide in the world. Studies have indicated that poverty and illiteracy contribute to intimate partner violence, and that higher levels of education reduce the rate of intimate partner violence. Considering the role of illiteracy and higher education in the occurrence of intimate partner violence, the aim of this study is to examine why youths at a university perpetrate intimate partner violence and to explore the experiences of survivors of intimate partner violence at a specific institution. Through a phenomenological design influenced by a narrative communication paradigm, in the study, we used face-to-face interviews to explore the opinions and experiences of university students who were perpetrators and survivors of intimate partner violence. The findings indicate that educated youths are not extraneous to a culture of normalisation of violence as a result of male cultural socialisation, expectation of dominance of power, women’s vulnerability and acquiescence. These often result in fatal consequences that describe the prevalence of intimate partner violence in South Africa. We recommend social literacy about violence, gender equality, women’s right and effective legal recourse.


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Author Biographies

Toks Dele Oyedemi, University of Limpopo

Assistant Professor,
Department of Communication, Media and Information Studies

Linah Rabothata, University of Limpopo

Department of Communication, Media and Information Studies


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How to Cite

Oyedemi, Toks Dele, and Linah Rabothata. 2023. “A Phenomenological Study of Perpetrator–Survivor Accounts of Intimate Partner Violence Among University Students in South Africa”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 35 (1):19 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2708-9355/9432.



Received 2021-04-30
Accepted 2023-02-13
Published 2023-05-09