Book Excerpt | Battered Women’s Protective Strategies: Stronger Than You Know

Introduction:
A Re-Framing of Stereotypes of Battered Women

About 2 years ago during a conference, I ended up at a lunch table next to a woman who works in a victim assistance program in a southern state. Her state, like many, runs victim assistance programs to help all types of crime victims recover from crime. One service they provide is assistance with the costs of repairs for victims of property crime such as household burglary or vandalism.

This woman specifically handled cases involving domestic violence. She offered the following example, “So if a batterer kicks the door down of his ex-partner, then we can pay for the cost of the repair to the door.” Brief pause. “As long as she has not reunited with him.” I asked her why that was a requirement to receive help. She looked mystified. I asked her if there were any relationship status requirements for assisting other crime victims. “No.” Did other crime victims get interviewed about the better choices they could be making? Better neighborhood? Better locks? Why can’t a woman get help without having to pass some sort of test? She looked — if I was not misreading her expression — astounded and a little annoyed.

To her credit, there did seem to be some conflict registered on her face as she pondered, apparently for the first time, why it made sense to treat battered women differently from every other category of crime victim. The moment passed, however, and she insisted the situation for battered women was “different” without making any further attempt to specify how.

Review Quotes

“Sherry Hamby has written a refreshing, myth busting account of supporting women through domestic violence. This book is unique, turns around some untested but widely held beliefs about safety planning, risk assessment and exit strategies and focuses on working with women to build on their strengths and resourcefulness. Thoroughly researched, clearly argued and challenging in so many ways this brilliant book offers advocates, welfare workers, community agencies, court professionals, educators and researchers a wealth of new ideas and resources.”
— Lorraine Radford, Ph.D., Professor of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Central Lancashire

“Dr. Hamby’s book helps to shift the lens through which we view, and too often judge, the actions of women in violent relationships. The perspective she offers will be useful to researcher and practitioners alike and should find its way into classrooms in the future where professional are trained. Dr. Hamby also asks important questions that both challenge and help us see battered women in a new ways — ways that help ground our community responses to them in a nuanced and fundamental understanding of their strengths, priorities, values and survival strategies. Indeed, the book, which is grounded in both a thorough examination of research on intimate partner violence and careful listening to women’s lived experiences contributes to more complex models of women’s lives.”
— Victoria L. Banyard, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, University of New Hampshire

“This is a powerful book…. [A] must-read for students, researchers, practitioners or anyone else who seeks to move beyond the tired questions of “why doesn’t she leave?” to understand survivors’ arduous struggle to find safety and stability for themselves and their children.”
— Lisa Goodman, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Training, Lynch School of Education, Boston College

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