Discovering Principles of Nonviolent Social Movements in Intimate Relationships


nonviolence, intimate partnerships, intimate partner violence, couple conflict


Although principles of nonviolence have been applied in sociopolitical arenas, they can also be helpful in understanding intimate partner relationships. This is because couples who handle conflict in a constructive way are often using techniques and ideas congruent with nonviolent philosophies. Relationships that handle conflict by becoming aggressive could potentially apply principles of nonviolence to help them address problems in constructive ways. The purpose of this study was to explore qualitative data that described intimate partner dynamics (including conflict, violence, appraisals, and safety) to better understand how individuals apply principles of nonviolence in their partnerships to achieve healthier relationship outcomes. Three qualitative data sets were analyzed using grounded theory methodology. From this secondary analysis, emerged categories and concepts that illustrate the ways couples demonstrate nonviolence principles in these relationships. The first main category was awareness, which included accountability, reflection, commitment, and justice. The second category was action, which included the concepts of authenticity, resistance, repair, and care. These are shown in a process model that in undergirded by the category of context, which includes interaction, gender/culture, and family of origin. Implications for clinical practice and research are provided.

Original Publication Citation

Whiting, J. B., Harris, S. F., Oka, M, & Cravens, J. D. (2016). Be the change you want to see: Discovering principles of nonviolent social movements in intimate relationships. The Family Journal, 24, 367-377. doi: 10.1177/1066480716663190

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



The Family Journal




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor