Dapat, kita: Representations of the schema of heteronormativity and the visibility of abuse in domestic violence


Barangay Violence Against Women (VAW) Desk officers are the frontliners in the provision of services to a victim/survivor of domestic violence. They are the first persons that a woman encounters, and they determine whether her truth claim identifies her as domestic violence case, thereby enabling her to access State-provided services and interventions. Thus, it is important to inquire into the Desk officers’ worldviews and beliefs, also called schemas, and how these influence the ways they communicate and interact with the victim/survivors they encounter daily in their work.

Guided by gender schema theory, this study examines the drawings of the VAW Desk officers—and the ecology of images that accompany these drawings—to delve into their cognitive constructions of the gendered nature of domestic violence.

Two dominant schemas emerge from this examination: the schema of heteronormativity (dapat), and the schema of the necessary visibility of domestic violence (kita). These schemas govern the Desk officers’ everyday judgments and decision making, and inform the ways they communicate with domestic violence victim/survivors.