Traditional practice, with regard to intimate violence at a specialist college, involves professionals normalising, disciplining and managing students compliance to established norms; however, findings from a 5‐year study indicate students with learning difficulties could manage themselves responsibly if professionals help them increase levels of differentiation from Binary Branding Normality Normalcy, Putative Social Identity and Multi‐dimensional Social Network influences.
Concerned about practice that attempts to manage acts of intimate violence perpetrated by students with learning difficulties in a specialist college setting; I questioned the extent to which they could manage themselves. Following a methodological review of literature, I used critical conversations with focus groups participants and case study interviewees to consider the sense they make of intimate violence and students managing themselves responsibly in learning environments. Thematic analysis yielded five themes relating to different versions of students acting responsibly and/or irresponsibly: I've got a problem, I told staff, I can't, I'm disabled and I'm not normal. Discursive analysis highlighted five variable acts of resistance: Conditioned‐Response, Role Specific, Inner‐Conflicted, Retreating and Higher Order. These correlate with student's levels of differentiation from Binary Branding Normality Normalcy, Putative Social Identity and Multi‐dimensional Social Network influences. In response to their subordinate position in learning environments, some students, via Variable Processes of Learning Disability Culture, use Defensive Disability Language, Defensive Positional Stances and Power Plays to assert their power over professionals; nevertheless, when invited to engage nondefensively, some students could, as evidenced by focus groups discussions and a case study example, manage themselves responsibly.