Exceptionalising intersectionality

a corpus study of implied readership in guidance for survivors of domestic abuse


  • Abigaël Candelas de la Ossa Austin Independent School District




corpus analysis, feminist discourse analysis, pronouns, domestic abuse, intersectionality


Groups who experience multiple marginalisation are more likely to experience domestic abuse, but appear to be the least represented in materials designed to support survivors. This paper uses corpus methods and feminist discourse analysis to examine a guidance text produced by a British organisation that supports women survivors of domestic abuse. The analysis examines the discursive practices used to construct solidarity between the implied reader, implied author and broader imagined community. While many of the practices employed in these texts to construct solidarity are exemplary – such as centring survivors’ experiences and addressing survivors directly by using first- and second-person pronouns – the texts also construct multiply marginalised survivors as distal by using third-person pronouns in discourses which represent multiple marginalisation as ‘exceptional’. The paper concludes by suggesting ways to improve guidance for survivors of domestic abuse.

Author Biography

Abigaël Candelas de la Ossa, Austin Independent School District

Abigaël Candelas de la Ossa is an educator, researcher and policy advocate working on language use in violence prevention and survivor support, and media representations of bias-motivated gun violence. Making policy recommendations and advocating for improvements to violence prevention and survivor support programs is an important component of her work. For more information about her research and activities, see https://acande las.gitlab.io.


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How to Cite

Candelas de la Ossa, A. (2019). Exceptionalising intersectionality: a corpus study of implied readership in guidance for survivors of domestic abuse. Gender and Language, 13(2), 224–250. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.35094