"An exciting and powerful collection that eloquently critiques some of the current thinking in domestic violence and raises key concerns for advocates and scholars working in the area."—Sujata Warrier, president, board of directors, Manavi: An organization for South Asian women
"Sokoloff has assembled an impressive array of authors who challenge us to ‘think outside of our contemporary domestic violence box.’"—Angela M. Moore Parmley, chief, violence and victimization research division, National Institute of Justice
This groundbreaking anthology reorients the field of domestic violence research by bringing long-overdue attention to the structural forms of oppression in communities marginalized by race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, or social class.
Reprints of the most influential recent work in the field as well as more than a dozen newly commissioned essays explore theoretical issues, current research, service provision, and activism among Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, and lesbians. The volume rejects simplistic analyses of the role of culture in domestic violence by elucidating the support systems available to battered women within different cultures, while at the same time addressing the distinct problems generated by that culture. Together, the essays pose a compelling challenge to stereotypical images of battered women that are racist, homophobic, and xenophobic.
The most up-to-date and comprehensive picture of domestic violence available, this anthology is an essential text for courses in sociology, criminology, social work, and women’s studies. Beyond the classroom, it provides critical information and resources for professionals working in domestic violence services, advocacy, social work, and law enforcement.
The April 1988 murder and decapitation of twenty-three-year-old Michael Miley in rural southern Illinois horrified and enraged local residents and law enforcement officials, some of whom suspected the homicide was a hate crime. The Rita Nitz Story: A Life Without Parole is an in-depth personal investigation into Miley’s murder, for which Rita Nitz was convicted as an accomplice to life in prison. Born in 1959, Rita was thirty when she was sentenced in 1989. Her husband, Richard Nitz, was convicted of the murder. Detailing the crime and its aftermath, Larry L. Franklin uncovers a disturbing set of facts that illuminate a possible miscarriage of justice.
Was Rita Nitz involved in the murder of Michael Miley? Franklin doesn’t purport her guilt or her innocence but instead details the plight of a troubled woman who was a victim of sexual abuse and domestic violence at the hands of family members and spouses and who may also have been a victim of inadequate legal representation and a judicial system more interested in delivering the maximal punishment than in serving justice. Consulting with experts in prosecutorial conduct, jury psychology, and forensic evidence, Franklin discovered details that were withheld from the jury and the public during the trial in 1989. He also suggests other theories and names possible perpetrators involved in the murder that further imply shoddy police work and a tainted criminal investigation.
Drawing on numerous conversations with Rita at the Dwight Correctional Center in Illinois, Franklin divulges the story of Rita’s tumultuous youth and her three problematic marriages. He shows her to be a battered woman who didn’t fully understand the circumstances and behavior that led to her being implicated in such a hideous crime and who lacked the financial resources and emotional strength to navigate the legal tangle that entrapped her.
Franklin also points out the disparity in justice between Rita and Richard, who is up for parole in less than twenty years, while Rita remains sentenced to life without parole. In attempting to reach the truth about Miley’s murder, Franklin highlights abuses in the Illinois correctional system and disparities between the treatment of male and female convicts, sketching a blueprint that could improve law enforcement and justice in rural Illinois.
More than just a study of legal history, Shifting the Blame looks at the "abuse excuse" defense as an indicator of broad social change in cultural understandings of victimization, responsibility, and womanhood. The introduction of victimization as an exculpatory condition within the context of a criminal defense tells the story of a society that has accepted victimization as a new way of explaining and excusing misbehavior.
Through case law analysis, the book documents the initial development of the strategy in three different types of cases in the 1970s - "rotten social background", brainwashing, and battered women's self-defense cases. Since its initial acceptance in battered women's cases in the early 1980s, the use of the strategy has expanded to a variety of offenders in different types of relationships arguing different defenses. In lively, readable prose, Westervelt examines each form of expansion, revealing that while the expansion of the strategy has been fairly extensive, it has also been limited in some important ways. Her research shows readers that only certain types of "victims," particularly victims of physical abuse, have successfully used this defense. Shifting the Blame exposes the ways in which the acceptance of this new defense strategy illuminates a cultural shift in understandings of individual responsibility and shows how the law plays a role in defining who can be an acceptable victim.
Saundra D. Westervelt is an assistant professor in the Sociology Department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Arrests of women for assault increased more than 40 percent over the past decade, while male arrests for this offense have fallen by about one percent. Some studies report that for the first time ever the rate of reported intimate partner abuse among men and women is nearly equal. Susan L. Miller’s timely book explores the important questions raised by these startling statistics.
Are women finally closing the gender gap on violence? Or does this phenomenon reflect a backlash shaped by men who batter? How do abusive men use the criminal justice system to increase control over their wives? Do police, courts, and treatment providers support aggressive arrest policies for women? Are these women “victims” or “offenders”?
In answering these questions, Miller draws on extensive data from a study of police behavior in the field, interviews with criminal justice professionals and social service providers, and participant observation of female offender programs. She offers a critical analysis of the theoretical assumptions framing the study of violence and provides insight into the often contradictory implications of the mandatory and pro-arrest policies enacted in the 1980s and 1990s. Miller argues that these enforcement strategies, designed to protect women, have often victimized women in different ways. Without sensationalizing, Miller unveils a reality that looks very different from what current statistics on domestic violence imply.
Healing roles and rituals involving alcohol are a major source of power and identity for women and men in Highland Chiapas, Mexico, where abstention from alcohol can bring a loss of meaningful roles and of a sense of community. Yet, as in other parts of the world, alcohol use sometimes leads to abuse, whose effects must then be combated by individuals and the community.
In this pioneering ethnography, Christine Eber looks at women and drinking in the community of San Pedro Chenalhó to address the issues of women’s identities, roles, relationships, and sources of power. She explores various personal and social strategies women use to avoid problem drinking, including conversion to Protestant religions, membership in cooperatives or Catholic Action, and modification of ritual forms with substitute beverages.
The book’s women-centered perspective reveals important data on women and drinking not reported in earlier ethnographies of Highland Chiapas communities. Eber’s reflexive approach, blending the women’s stories, analyses, songs, and prayers with her own and other ethnographers’ views, shows how Western, individualistic approaches to the problems of alcohol abuse are inadequate for understanding women’s experiences with problem and ritual drinking in a non-Western culture.
In a new epilogue, Christine Eber describes how events of the last decade, including the Zapatista uprising, have strengthened women's resolve to gain greater control over their lives by controlling the effects of alcohol in the community.
The statistics are alarming. Some say that once every nine minutes a woman in the United States is beaten by her spouse or partner. Others claim that once every four minutes a woman in the world is beaten by her spouse or partner. More women go to emergency rooms in the United States for injuries sustained at the hands of their spouses and partners than for all other injuries combined.
Shelters for battered women are filled beyond capacity every single day of the year. Despite the overwhelming evidence that violence in our homes is a daily reality, most of us are not willing to acknowledge this private violence or talk about it openly. Women Escaping Violence brings women's stories to the attention of the academy as well as the reading public. While we may be unwilling or unable to talk about the issue of battered women, many of us are ready to read what women have to say about their endangered lives.
Considerable scholarship is emerging in the area of domestic violence, including many self-help books about how to identify and escape abuse. Women Escaping Violence offers the unique view of battered women's stories told in their own words, as well as a feminist analysis of how these women use the power of narrative to transform their sense of self and regain a place within the larger society.
Lawless shares with the reader the heart-wrenching experiences of battered women who have escaped violence by fleeing to shelters with little more than a few items hastily shoved into a plastic bag, and often with small children in tow. The book includes women's stories as they are told and retold within the shelter, in the presence of other battered women and of caregivers. It analyzes the uses made of these narratives by those seeking to counsel battered women as well as by the women themselves.
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