(Cite as: 35 Hous. L. Rev. 29)
BATTERED WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN: LESSONS FROM ONE WOMAN'S STORY
Table of Contents
The statistics are horrifying. Women are brutalized, terrorized, and murdered by intimate partners every day.  To make matters worse, battered women are often victimized a second time by police, prosecutors, lawyers, psychologists, and judges.  Batterers often seek and receive custody of children  even though they often abuse children as well as women.  While society and the legal system have improved their attitudes toward domestic violence,  we still have a long way to go.
And yet the statistics cannot tell the whole story. They are too abstract
and impersonal. The sheer magnitude of the numbers can desensitize us.
Domestic violence is so wide
Telling individual women's stories is one way to address this dilemma. Stories touch our feelings in a way that statistics cannot.  Stories can also spur us to action when statistics only depress us. 
And so, I have decided to tell the story of one woman, a woman I will call "Mary." 
After telling Mary's story, I discuss in Part III some lessons that can be learned from what she experienced. In Part IV, I then address some questions that might be raised by her story, including whether Mary's story is credible and whether Mary is a "typical" battered woman.
Mary is an attractive, forty-year-old white woman.  She has lived her whole life in a mid-size southwestern city. She is a computer systems analyst and works for one of the major employers in her home town.
Mary and I talked for many hours on a number of occasions. What follows, while lengthy, does not purport to be her entire story. In particular, only major incidents of abuse by Mary's husband (now ex-husband) Russ are covered. 
I have put Mary's story in the first person for two reasons. First,
storytelling is more effec
I wrote the story based on my interviews with Mary. Therefore, most
of the language is mine, not hers. However, Mary has read the entire
story and made suggestions and correc
The remaining parts of the Article are my work, and I bear sole responsibility for them. Mary has not read these parts of the Article. Based on discussions during our interviews, I suspect that Mary would agree with at least some of the lessons discussed in Part III, but I cannot vouch for that.
The footnotes in Mary's story are of two types. Some guide the reader
to later sections of the article for lessons and questions that I think
her story raises. Other footnotes provide citations to good discussions
on issues that this Article will not address in depth. The inter
I would urge readers to initially read just the text of Mary's story and not to stop for the footnotes. That is the best way, I believe, to follow the events and feel the full impact of what happened to her. Then, readers can go back and check for the additional information contained in the footnotes.
I was twenty-three years old when I started my relationship with Russ. He was thirty-five and also a computer analyst where I worked. The year was 1980. When I met Russ, my first marriage had recently failed and my son from that marriage, Richard, was three years old.
The end of my first marriage was very traumatic for me because I had been raised a strong Catholic. I felt as though I had failed. In retrospect, I think Russ sensed my vulnerability and took advantage of it. He acted the part of a "knight in shining armor." He wined me and dined me. I was very impressed.
Russ and I broke up a number of times while we were dating. I saw some of his anger and controlling behavior, and they frightened me. I even left the company where we both worked to get away from him. But he pursued me and won me back, and we were married in 1984. He was never physically violent during our courtship. 
I became pregnant soon after we were married. I had severe morning
sickness during the first seven months of the pregnancy. I felt very
weak. Also, while I was pregnant, Russ announced that he was quitting
his job and was going to raise horses. He said this was something he
had always dreamed about. Despite the fact that raising horses is rarely
Russ's first physical abuse occurred when I was pregnant. I have since learned that this is often the case.  He had quit his job. I tried to discuss with him my fears about our financial situation, especially with the baby coming. We argued. All of a sudden, he came at me like a rocket launcher. He pushed me against the wall and, holding me there, started to strangle me. He screamed, "You don't tell me what I need to do."
I was shocked. I slid down the wall and fell to the floor, crying. He stood over me and berated me, saying that I was crying because I was "weak."
I can still remember vividly what Russ looked like during this first attack. Words cannot describe it; it was so frightening. His face was distorted, inhuman, and filled with rage; his eyes bugged out. He did not look like the Russ I thought I knew; he seemed like a rabid dog.
I know there is this idea of the "cycle of violence" and that batterers
express remorse after a battering episode. 
I have heard of a "honeymoon" period following the abuse where the batterer
is extra nice. 
Well, that may happen in some cases, but it certainly did not happen
in mine. 
Russ never apologized for this incident or any of the more violent ones
that came later. He did not even acknowledge what he had done or that
there was anything wrong with it. He never promised, "Honey, it won't
happen again." He would, however, sometimes give me gifts after a beating.
But even these supposed "gifts" were selfish and controlling. After a
severe beating in which he tore up my right arm and shoul
It occurred to me to leave him at this point, but I was much too ashamed
to consider it seri
Though Russ never apologized for the violence, we did have many good times together, at least during the early years of our marriage. I am a very affectionate person, and he could be affectionate too.
During the pregnancy, I went to work at the second shift to make more
money. This left Russ taking care of Richard, my son from my first marriage.
I later learned that, while car
Naturally, the abuse from his stepfather has led to a lot of anger from Richard, now age twenty. However, the anger has not been directed toward me.
In 1985, I gave birth to our first child together, a daughter, Elizabeth. Russ was obviously disappointed that it was a girl. He pressured me to have another child right away. Because of the abuse and my fear of Russ, I was willing to do anything to appease him. So, I became pregnant when Elizabeth was just five months old, even though I was neither physically or emotionally ready for another child. Our son Daniel was born fourteen months after Elizabeth.
Getting back to the issue of Russ's abuse of me. After the choking incident when I was pregnant, Russ just had to give me "the look," and I would try to make peace.  I worked to keep the kids quiet; we all worked hard to keep from upsetting Russ. Everyone walked on eggshells. When the kids heard his truck coming, they would run and hide.
While I was pregnant with our second child, Daniel, Russ twisted my arm so violently that it permanently damaged my shoulder. I cannot even remember now what the fight was about. A doctor later told me he was shocked to see an injury like mine in a layperson. He told me the damage done to my shoulder was so severe that it was similar to what a he would expect from a professional baseball pitcher after years of throwing and stress.
The shoulder injury prevented me from full participation in athletics. This was devastating to me. I have always been a superb athlete and enjoyed doing physical things. Because of who I am, the shoulder injury was not just physically painful. It was a way of taking away my identity.
I did not initially seek medical help for the shoulder injury. I was ashamed and thought it was all my fault. Of course, Russ was always telling me that everything was my fault. I did not want anyone to know.
Russ also set up a number of rules for our house. 
The children and I were to follow the rules "or else." For instance,
I was not allowed to watch comedies such as "Cheers" and "M*A*S*H" on
television. Instead, we always watched the blood-and-guts action
shows that Russ liked. My sense of humor is an important part of who
I am and an impor
There were always a lot of guns in our house. At one point, while
in a face-to-face argu
As I now know is typical, I was subjected to an unending stream of
degrading comments. 
Russ was always saying things to me like, "Your thighs are fat. Your
boobs are too small. No one else would want you. You're lucky to have
me." I cannot express the horri
The tearing away at my self-image and self-esteem is hard to describe. I like to draw an analogy to an artichoke. You can pull one leaf off an artichoke and it's no big deal. But you slowly pull away one leaf and then another and then another, and before long, you're down to the artichoke heart. It's not an artichoke anymore with the leaves gone. And, once the leaves are off, you can stab the artichoke in the heart, no problem. Russ really knew where the insults would hurt, and he tore away at me.
Still, I always kept up a good front. I was able to keep information about the abuse away from my family for a long time. The only exception was one sister who lives in Colorado (I have five brothers and two sisters; we are a very close and loving family  ). One time, when she and I were talking over the phone, she heard Russ's angry screaming in the background. She asked one of my brothers, who lives locally, to follow up with me. When he did, I sloughed it off and said, "I'm fine."
I think a lot of people saw the look of terror in the children's eyes
when Russ was around. But they either thought nothing of it or did not
do anything. In retrospect, I also think var
My son Richard was not the only child who was abused. When Elizabeth was three, Russ's ten-year old son from a previous marriage (Russ Jr., known as Chip) molested her. Chip would stay with us for part of the summer. One day, when I was not there and Russ was supposedly in charge, Chip went into Elizabeth's bedroom, pulled the blanket over her head, pulled down her pants and started fondling her. When I returned home, Elizabeth was sitting on her bed crying. Unfortunately, it was not unusual for the kids to be crying when I got home after Russ had been caring for them.
When I asked Elizabeth what had happened, she told me what Chip had
done. I went and told Russ. He immediately became a maniac and started
hitting Chip and pounding him against the wall. I later learned that
Russ's supposed anger toward Chip was just a show for my benefit. Years
later when I had left Russ and Elizabeth finally felt safe, she told
me what had really happened. After Chip had molested her, and before
I came home, Eliza
After Chip's molestation of Elizabeth, I never let him be alone in
the house with her. Russ refused to send Chip home to his mother in Illinois.
To Russ, what Chip had done to Eliz
Russ beat me severely for the first time in January 1989, right after the Super Bowl. We had had an argument three days before (I have forgotten over what) and he had not spoken to me since. This was a common way for him to punish me after a fight. Whenever he was giving me the "silent treatment," he would typically "make up" by having sex with me. It was rape or near-rape, really, since it did not matter whether or not I wanted to have sex. Russ did not care if I wanted to make up in that way. He would also punish me by staying out all night, presumably with other women.
Well, I had been sleeping on the couch for several nights. It was after the Super Bowl, and I thought he had passed out on our bed, drunk (Russ is an alcoholic  ). I wanted to get a good night's sleep, so, thinking he was asleep, I climbed into our bed. He immediately grabbed my hair very violently and started ripping off my clothes, trying to rape me. He twisted my breasts severely. The pain was excruciating. I screamed in pain but I fought back; I'm pretty strong.
Hearing my screams, Elizabeth (age four) came to the bedroom door and yelled, "Daddy stop!" He chased her out of the room. Meanwhile, I ran to the laundry room at the other end of the house, naked and crying hysterically. I closed the laundry room door behind me and tried to keep him out. Russ is 6'4" tall and weighs 240 pounds, so he easily pushed the door open. He shoved me against the wall and repeatedly beat my head against it. Finally, I slid down the wall, exhausted. As he had done before, he stood over me and called me names like "bitch" and "cunt." Then, satisfied that he had proven his power over me, he went back to bed and fell asleep.
One thing I remember vividly from this incident is seeing a hammer
in the laundry room while Russ was beating me. I could have reached it.
I remember thinking to myself, "Maybe I should use it on him." But I
did not. In that split second, I thought of how Russ had told me many
times that most women who tried to defend themselves were killed by the
very weapon they had tried to use. I imagined that if I did not kill
Russ with that ham
After Russ had gone back to bed, I gathered up all three kids and went to my brother-in-law's house. He is the former husband of one of my sisters and like another brother to me. As I was leaving our house, Russ woke up and tried to keep me from taking the kids, but I managed to get away.
I was too ashamed to call the police. My brother-in-law
said, "Don't go back." I replied, "I have to go back or else I'll be
stuck with all the bills." What did I mean by that? Well, the IRS had
ruled that Russ's horse raising scheme had been a hobby and not a business.
So the IRS had disallowed all those expenses and we had been hit with
a bill for back taxes of $20,000. I thought to myself, "If I don't go
back, Russ will leave and I'll be stuck with pay
I look back on it now and my thinking seems ridiculous. But people need to understand that battered women often do not think straight because of post- traumatic stress.  Who could or would think clearly under such circumstances? And I was also thinking that it would be disgraceful to be divorced a second time.  I knew that society would think I was unstable, probably a bad person, and certainly a bad mother.
There is another reason, in addition to post-traumatic stress,
for why I found it hard to assess my situation clearly. Like most batterers,
Russ had isolated me from my family and friends. 
When they came over, he was very rude and would always play the televi
I know that some batterers are always charming to everyone outside the family.  That was not really true of Russ. He was sometimes intimidating, condescending, and mean to my friends. He would often put me down in front of them. 
Actually, I was luckier than many battered women, as I continued to
have contact with family and friends. 
Plus, my family was always very supportive and never gave up on me.
They did not blame me for the abuse or insist that I leave Russ before
I was ready. I was even able to confide in one of my sisters about the
abuse. I am also grateful to a good friend from work who asked me about
the bruises on my arm. She had seen Russ be psy
Still, even with the support I received, Russ had succeeded in isolating me. And it is hard to think clearly when you feel all alone with your problems. I now see how effective Russ's isolation techniques were.
Even after the January 1989 beating, I would not have considered myself an abused woman,  but going to my brother-in-law's house was important because it was my first time out.  It was also the first time I'd talked about the abuse with a man.
The laundry room beating marked the end of any good times between Russ and me. After this, it seemed he wanted to hurt me just about all the time.
I think battered women stay with their abusers out of both hope and fear. They hope the batterer will change; they fear what might happen if they leave. After this incident, hope was gone for me; fear was all that remained. How could I hope, when Russ showed no remorse and never apologized? He sometimes claimed to have "blacked out" during this and other incidents. I know he is an alcoholic, but his blackouts were just too convenient for my tastes.
After the Super Bowl beating, he never again made me cry. In order to survive, I shut out my emotions.
In terms of the health care system: shortly after Elizabeth was born,
Russ complained to our family doctor about me. The doctor responded by
putting both of us on thyroid medi
It was the same way with money. Russ could spend money however he wanted and could buy whatever he wanted. His check was exclusively for him to spend. One of his favorites tricks was to get something he wanted (like a gun or rifle) and say to me, "Look what I bought for you."
My check was to take care of everything else in the house. If we were short of money, it was always my fault, never his fault for his extravagant, selfish purchases.
The doctor never asked me about domestic violence. At one point, I said to him, "Russ gets real angry with me." I wanted the doctor somehow to pick up on what I was saying and offer me help. Yet, I was also terrified that he would repeat to Russ whatever I said. I knew that Russ would respond violently to that, so I was very circumspect. The doctor's response was, "Is he manic- depressive?" I mumbled in response, "I don't know," and the doctor pretty much dropped the subject.
I think it was the doctor's job to make a diagnosis of Russ, not mine. Plus, he should have taken the time to earn my trust and to talk to me about the underlying facts, Russ's abuse, that were causing my medical problems. He should have assured me that he would keep what I told him confidential.
I also felt the doctor should have noticed that I was incredibly exhausted and depressed. True, I had three young children to care for and a demanding job; however, my exhaustion went way beyond what could be explained by those circumstances. If he had ever asked, "Why are you so exhausted?" in a way that indicated he really wanted to know the answer, I think I might have poured out my heart to him. 
Today, I have a doctor who starts every visit by sitting down and asking me, "How are things going, Mary? What is happening in your life? How are the kids doing?" And it is clear that he really cares about the answers. He is not looking at his watch or edging toward the door from the minute he comes in. And I think that, as a result, he can provide me with better medical care because he understands the context in which my medical problems are occurring.
The incident that caused me to leave for good happened in June 1990. It started on a Thursday night. I had long planned on going to a bridal shower on Friday evening. I had asked, and Russ had agreed, that he would look after the kids on Friday night. As far as I was concerned, it was all arranged. That Thursday night I reminded Russ, "You'll have the kids tomorrow night so I can go to the shower." He was furious and screamed in my face, "I made plans for tomorrow night. I made them before yours. You can't go. And don't hire a babysitter because we can't afford it." All that night, he kicked me while we were in bed together. He turned the lights on and off all night. I hardly got any sleep. (I have since learned that sleep deprivation is a common batterers' tactic  ).
I remember how relieved I was when he got up in the morning to take
his shower to go to work. For those few minutes while he was in the shower,
I could sleep and rest. Of course, it was not nearly long enough. It
was clear that he was still enraged. As he left for work, he said to
me, "No one deserves a beating more than you. You're going to get the
That was it for me. I thought to myself, "It's time for this to be
over." After Russ had gone to work, I grabbed some stuff for myself and
my children. We left the house and went into hiding. This was also the
point at which I finally called the local battered women's pro
The first night the kids and I stayed at a friend's house. My oldest
son, Richard, slept on the floor and the two little ones slept with me
on a spare bed. After that I began network
Just a few days after leaving, I sought and received an order of protection. The judge gave me what I wanted, but belittled me and minimized my safety concerns in the process. In my petition, I detailed Russ's "you're going to get a beating when I get home" threat. I also stated that the last severe beating had occurred in January 1989 (the Super Bowl/laundry room incident). The judge said, in a dismissive way, "It's been a year and a half since he last beat you. Is last week's threat really serious?"
After I'd gotten the order of protection, Russ was warned by our babysitter that I had some papers that were going to be served on him. He tried to hide from the sheriff and police. On Monday evening (three days after I'd fled), he trashed our house. I went by the house the next day and found the house destroyed. I then bought a camera and went back to the house and took pictures. After I took pictures, I started cleaning up the house. Later that evening (Tuesday) I saw that Russ had been to the house again. This time he wrote hateful messages on the walls and mirror in the master bath. He also tore up my underclothes and took all of my business suits and dresses (my Al- Anon friends helped me get spare clothes to wear to work). Russ urinated on the walls of the master bedroom and ejaculated on my pillow.
My big mistake was not taking pictures of the second incident. Later
in the custody pro
We stayed in hiding for three weeks, then we moved back into our house (after changing the locks). I had a girlfriend move in with me. I was too afraid to be alone. Plus, I wanted a witness for anything else Russ might do to me.
Soon after going into hiding, I hired the first of what would be several
lawyers. Overall, I am very dissatisfied with how both the lawyers and
the legal system handled my situation. I feel that my lawyers did not
understand what I had experienced. They did not understand because they
would not or could not listen to what I had to say. 
They did not seem to care about what I wanted and why. Most had a predetermined
outcome in mind and a pre
I was always very up front with my lawyers about the abuse that had occurred. I also told them very clearly about my fears for myself and my children.
My first lawyer (I will call her Lawyer #1) was a woman and an experienced
Lawyer #1 was also my first introduction to how people in the legal system -- people who should know better -- completely dismiss abuse of women and children. At one point, after I had told her my story, she said, "So he slapped you around and beat the kids. What's your point?" She acted as if these facts were irrelevant to the divorce and custody proceedings.
Russ's lawyer said to my lawyer, "Let's sit Russ and Mary together
in the pretrial confer
This lawyer talked tough, but she spent most of her time flirting
with Russ's lawyer. She did not stand up to Russ. She was also just plain
incompetent; she gave away a key issue to Russ and his lawyer. When we
were negotiating over money, Russ and his lawyer wanted his payments
to be labeled "house payments" instead of "child support." My law
After I left Russ, he had no real interest in the kids. He did not
care about seeing them, much less having custody. He only became interested
when I insisted on supervised visita
I sometimes wonder if I made a mistake in seeking supervised visitation.
Not because the kids did not need it or deserve it, given his abuse of
them. But maybe he would have left the kids and me alone if I had just
"let sleeping dogs lie." I will never know. 
Of course, if the legal system had responded properly and effectively
to my request for super
While we were fighting over supervised visitation, my lawyer said,
"We'll get psychologi
When I sought supervised visitation, I was focused on the kids' safety. After I left him, I thought Russ would leave me alone. Boy was I wrong! I wish my lawyer would have alerted me to the continued danger that I would face.  I did not know -- and my lawyer never told me -- that separation often increases the danger to battered women. 
Lawyer #1 demanded and received a large up front retainer fee. Then
she sent me to a psy
Other psychologists were not much better. My kids and I went through a bunch of them. One psychologist called me "an air head."  I confronted him about that, and he did not like how assertive I was.
Russ claimed that I was a lesbian and an alcoholic. Both of these
accusations are com
Russ's tactics worked. The lawyers and psychologists, as well as the
judge, all concen
I am really angry that the legal system allows batterers to set the agenda through their wild accusations against victims. Russ played the game of "the best defense is a good offense" to perfection. The system allowed him to put the focus on me, instead of on his abuse of me and the children. My lawyers never fought effectively against this tactic.
Eventually, I fired Lawyer #1. From what I could tell, she was spending
most of her time and energy flirting with Russ's lawyer, and I was very
unhappy with her malpractice on the child support/house payments allocation.
I then interviewed another female lawyer who had been recommended by
HomeSafe, the local battered women's program. This law
Russ brought in the police to supervise the exchange of the children for visitation. He claimed that he called in the police because I was abusive. I have learned that batterers often claim that they are being abused.
Elizabeth did not want to visit with her dad, so I did not force her to go. This was later held against me as showing that I was uncooperative with Russ's rights as a father.  The judge tried to compare a visit with an abusive father with a trip to the dentist: a good mother will make her child go.
An important incident occurred when Russ came to a football game where my oldest son, Richard, was playing. Russ was not his father. It was my birthday, and obviously the game was an important event for my son and me.
Russ showed up, followed closely by my first husband, Chris, Richard's
father. I was sur
This was ironic, since the two of them had always hated each other. When I was living with Russ, he and Chris had fought over control of Richard. Russ had asserted his right to act as Richard's father, not out of love, but out of his need to dominate. Chris, even though he was not an involved father, had resisted somewhat. It is my guess that Russ used their mutual hatred of me to manipulate Chris. I think Chris was a willing pawn in Russ's mind games with me. 
When I retreated to my car after seeing Russ, he pointed at me in a taunting way. Chris went along. The two of them appeared to be having a good laugh at my expense. They were enjoying my fear and discomfort.
It was clear to me that Russ's only purpose in coming was to scare me. He had never shown any interest in Richard.
I had learned by now to always have my protective order with me. I showed it to the police who were working at the game. I asked them to order Russ to leave. The police responded that my protective order did not cover this situation because the game was a public event. I certainly was not going to stay there while Russ was there. So I had to leave the stadium without seeing the game.
This was an example of how Russ, like most batterers, always stayed right "on the line." That is, he did things that would intimidate me but would not get him in trouble with the authorities. 
Something I remember vividly from the football game incident was one police officer whose kindness and sensitivity meant a lot to me. The other officers, after determining that they could not or would not remove Russ from the game, just basically left. This police officer, however, came over to me and explained why the police thought they were unable to remove Russ from the game. He looked me in the eye and really talked to me. He dealt with me as a person. He was clearly empathetic and sympathetic with my fear and my anger that Russ was keeping me from attending Richard's game. I still think fondly of this officer, even though he did not do anything concrete to help me. It meant a lot that he talked to me and acknowledged the legitimacy of my fears and the unfairness of what was happening. 
Another person who helped me was a very good psychologist who had
a reputation for understanding battered women and their children. My
counselor at HomeSafe had recom
This affirmation was important. All the discouragement I had received
from my lawyers and other professionals had really taken its toll. When
I first left Russ, I had felt strongly that I was right in my perceptions
of Russ, myself, and my children. I thought the safety I wanted was reasonable
and fair. But the lawyers and psychologists had been so disem
The evening of the football game fiasco, I called my lawyer (Lawyer
#2) to discuss what could be done. It was clear to me that she was very
intoxicated. She did not respond at all to my outrage and to my safety
concerns. I fired her shortly thereafter. I was tired of pay
I then went looking for a male lawyer. I want to acknowledge that I did not yet trust women. Russ had constantly belittled women, and so I did not really believe that women professionals could be competent. I also still bought into the idea that women were natural rivals with each other. In saying this, I do not mean to excuse what my first two lawyers did. I think I was more than justified in firing them. But I think I fired them much more quickly than I would have if they had been men.
Attorney #3, a man, represented me through the trial that eventually
ended in my losing custody of my son Daniel. Attorney #3 sent me to a
psychologist whose attitude reminded me of Lawyer #1. This psychologist,
a woman, said "we'll get him," referring to Russ's psychologist. That
is, the psychologist saw this as a personal battle with Russ's psycholo
This psychologist had a very dismissive attitude. She never really believed my story of abuse. Because I was a professional and a strong person, I think she identified with me, but that identification hurt me. I think she did not want to confront the possibility that someone like her could ever be abused, or would stay in an abusive relationship.  The fact that I was a strong person seemed to make my story less credible to her. She virtually said to me, "Mary, you're a strong person. Because you're a strong person, I don't believe you'd put up with the abuse, if it was really as bad as you say. Therefore, you must be lying."
She did not understand domestic violence at all. Like the judge who
reluctantly granted my protective order, she was puzzled and troubled
by the fact that I was so scared by Russ's "you're going to get the beating
of your life" threat. She focused on the fact that it had been a year
and a half since the last severe physical incident when he made that
threat. She even asked me at one point, "When he threatened to beat you
[in June 1990], did he say it in a playful way?" She did not understand
that physical violence is just one tool bat
Russ's psychologist -- the one who I had once been told was for sale -- really did a number on me, too. According to him, I was an "angry woman," and this was bad. He thought Russ should have custody of both children.
He completely bought Russ's lies about me. He suggested -- based
on nothing other than Russ's statements and, perhaps, my assertiveness -- that
I might indeed have lesbian tenden
The same denial/minimization occurred around Russ's sexual abuse of me, including the brutalizing of my breasts. The psychologists bought Russ's explanation that "Mary likes rough sex that way."
No one cared about Russ's ongoing intimidation of me either. During
the divorce proceed
It also bothers me that psychologists will not investigate the true
facts, yet they assert that they know the truth. 
I repeatedly offered to put them in touch with other witnesses who would
support my story. They declined, saying that was not their job. Yet,
they would claim to know what actually happened. Apparently, they felt
they were such experts that they knew who was telling the truth, Russ
or me. Russ, with his charming bat
Both the psychologists and the judge failed to understand how the
abuse affected the children. 
For instance, the children were scared to death of Russ. This is not
Most fundamentally, the psychologists and judge bought the idea that Russ's abuse of me was irrelevant to child custody issues. They did not see any reason why the abuse should keep Russ from having full custody of the children. My own psychologist said, "So he's abused you. But he loves those kids." Even when I reminded her that the kids, especially Elizabeth, had seen the abuse, the psychologist responded, "She's young, she'll get over it."
I never got supervised visitation. At my insistence, my lawyer put a request for supervised visitation in my divorce petition. But he never fought for it or seemed to understand why the children and I needed it. In trying to discourage me from even asking for supervised visitation, he said, "Don't do that. It'll make the judge mad." 
From what I have said, it should not surprise you to learn that both
psychologists opposed supervised visitation. They both thought Russ was
a good parent and that supervised visi
Overall, I found the lawyers and psychologists very self-promoting
and egotistical. It seemed as if everyone was having a good time, playing
the game of litigation and psychol
As incredible as it might sound, the judge who heard my custody case had an outstanding protective order against him by his ex-wife. I also sensed very strongly that the judge did not like me. For these reasons, I told my lawyer I wanted to seek the judge's recusal. My lawyer dismissed me, saying, "You'll just get someone worse."
At the custody hearing, Russ denied everything. He said he had never
done anything to me physically. My psychologist did testify that he had
admitted the laundry room beating to her in a private session. However,
Russ had obviously minimized the severity of that beat
He testified that he had been the primary caretaker of the children.
The key evidence sup
Russ's testimony was so slick and manipulative. He laughed at the right times and misted up with tears at the right times. He acted the part of the "good ol' boy." That goes a long way where I live; I could tell the judge really liked him. Russ referred to Elizabeth and Daniel, by now ages 5 and 4, as "my babies" and talked about how much he loved them. He said things like, "They mean the world to me" and "I can't live without them." He made a particular point of saying, "I'm so close to Daniel." Russ came across as intelligent and very stable, as someone who really had his act together.
Russ's most outrageous testimony was reserved for the shotgun incident
with my son Richard. He said that the gun went off by "accident." He
also testified, "It was an old gun," as if that somehow made a difference.
He probably would have denied this incident too, but I had photographs
of the damage done to the ceiling and roof. My lawyer tried to dis
I testified to the abuse of the children and me. I am sure I did not
seem as calm or collected as Russ. Given what I had been through, and
given the fact that I was fighting for my chil
I feel that the judge held against me that I was strong and matter-of-fact.
I think that, in his mind, I did not portray the proper image of a "real"
victim of domestic violence. 
Yet, at the same time, my crying and emotionalism hurt me, too. The
judge seemed bored and annoyed when I started to cry. He asked, "How
much longer is this going to take? Are we almost done here?" He had never
said that during Russ's testimony. Indeed, throughout the trial, the
judge seemed biased against my attorney and me. He often interrupted
I think it also probably hurt me that I was a professional. The judge did not seem to believe that a woman of my education and achievement would take the abuse I described.
I tried to offer testimony from other people whom Russ had abused. Shortly before the custody trial, I had learned that Russ abused his first wife. The judge refused to hear this testimony. I later learned that this was a typical pattern for this judge when hearing cases where women were claiming domestic violence.
Both psychologists' testimony damaged my case. Russ's psychologist said I had "drug addict tendencies," picking up on Russ's false accusation of alcoholism. He said that Russ had been very active in raising the kids and that I was an angry woman who would not cooperate fairly with Russ's rights as a father if I were given custody of Daniel. I thought my lawyer did a good job of cross-examining Russ's psychologist.
The worst damage was done by my psychologist. She testified that I
was feigning the abuse. She also made a big deal about a phone conversation
we had had. I was suffering from an allergy attack and had the sniffles.
During the conversation, we laughed. She later testified that I had quickly
gone from crying to laughing. As a result, she said, she ques
My psychologist testified that I should have custody of Elizabeth
but was wishy-washy about Daniel. She testified that he would do
okay with either Russ or me. She also criti
I must emphasize again how everything I did was scrutinized with a microscope and everything Russ did was excused. I had entered into evidence pictures of how Russ had totally destroyed our house after being served with the protective order. The Judge's response: "But he was hurt." Just like Russ had two sets of rules -- one for himself and one for me -- the court seemed to have completely different rules for batterers and victims.
Similarly, the judge completely bought Russ's explanation about the
shotgun business. The fact that it had been an old 12-gauge shotgun
made it okay. 
And the judge believed that the gun had gone off by accident. Even if
that were true, I will never under
I do not know how I could have gotten through this period without
the support of my fam
The judge ordered that Russ be given custody of our son Daniel, then
age four. The judge said that Russ was a good parent. He agreed with
the psychologists that I would be a bad custodial parent because I was
angry and could not get along with Russ with regard to vis
To make matters worse, the judge told me that I was getting custody of Elizabeth for a six-month probationary period. I will never forget his warning from the bench: "If you do one thing to disrupt visitation, I'll take your daughter and give your ex-husband custody of her too."
As if losing Daniel weren't bad enough, the lawyer who accompanied
me to the final hear
The night that I lost custody of Daniel was the worst night of my
life. I came very close to going back to Russ, just to protect my son.
When I got home that night, there was a mes
I called my counselor from HomeSafe and told her I was thinking about returning to Russ. I had absolutely no positive feelings toward him and no delusions about what it would be like. The idea of taking more abuse from him made me sick, but I could not stand the idea of him abusing Daniel either. If I went back, I thought maybe I could protect Daniel, if not myself.
The counselor told me, "Mary, you've saved two of your three kids [meaning Richard and Elizabeth]. If you go back, everyone loses." I knew she was right, but it was still a horrible feeling, like I was sacrificing Daniel for the sake of myself and the other two children. I mean, if a parent saves two of her three children from a burning house, does she feel good about rescuing two, or terrible that she could not rescue all three? I cannot tell you how angry I am that the legal system required me to make that choice.
Needless to say, during that probationary period, Russ was in abuser's heaven. He could do anything he wanted. If I expressed any upset or disagreement, I knew it would be held against me and I might lose Elizabeth too. During this period, Russ would not return the kids as scheduled following visitation, so I had to get someone to go with me to his house and retrieve the children.
I did not appeal the custody decision because by this point, I had no money left to pay the lawyer. It was certainly clear that the lawyer would not pursue the appeal without more up-front money.
I probably never would have gotten Daniel back, except that Russ's live-in girlfriend (with whom he is still living) contacted the children's psychologist to report that he was abusing Daniel. This was four or five months after Russ had gained custody of Daniel. I think the girlfriend made her revelation partly because I had told her that Russ was planning to seek full custody of Elizabeth, too. Russ was not really taking care of the kids; the girlfriend was. When she learned that he would be going after Elizabeth too, she said, "WHAT???!!!" I think she cared about the children and knew that Russ's having custody would be harmful and dangerous for them, plus, I doubt she was interested in being the caretaker for both kids.
After learning about Russ's abuse of Daniel, I immediately went to my lawyer (Lawyer #3), demanding an immediate petition for a change of custody. He said we could not seek a modification of custody because it was too soon. He said, "Let the ink dry on the judge's custody order." That was the last straw and I fired him.
I got a new lawyer and a new psychologist. I recorded a telephone conversation with Russ's girlfriend about the abuse of Daniel. Russ's girlfriend was subpoenaed, and because of the recording, I knew -- and Russ knew -- that the abuse of Daniel would come out. Even if Russ intimidated her into changing her testimony, I think he knew that the tape was credible.
Faced with a situation he could not win, Russ folded. He agreed to a modification and I regained custody of Daniel. I grabbed at the chance to get custody back, even though I had to agree that Russ could have unsupervised visitation with the children. I knew Russ would never agree to supervised visitation. I did not want, and could not pay for, another long, drawn-out battle in court. Besides, based on what I had seen, I did not want to risk what a judge might do.
As far as I am concerned, Russ agreed to the change of custody to save face. No one in authority ever held him accountable for his abuse. People in authority, like the judge and the psychologists, always supported him and held a good opinion of him. Russ wanted to maintain his good image at all costs. By giving up custody of Daniel without a fight, he could avoid the public humiliation of being outed as an abuser.
He portrayed the custody change to the children as a sacrifice he
was making because he loved them so much. "This is what's best for you,"
he said. Once again, he took no respon
Even after I had custody of both kids, Russ continued to engage in repeated violations of my protective order through phone harassment and stalking. Additionally, his son, Chip, was there unsupervised when the kids visited Russ. Apparently, though, Chip did not abuse either child further.
Finally, in March 1996, about four years after returning Daniel to me, Russ lost visitation. He had put the children in the back of his pick up truck. He was driving fast and hit a bump. Elizabeth flew out and Daniel was dragged behind the truck. Elizabeth scraped her side, hit her head, and hurt her back. She had to have her back manipulated by the doctor and had to take muscle relaxants. Daniel did not want to admit the incident had even occurred, but he did limp for a few days. Because he had directly endangered the children, the judge took away visitation (this was a different judge from the one who had given Russ custody of Daniel).
Eliminating visitation was a proper result, and I am glad about it.
Still, I cannot help but feel a little bitter that no one ever really
cared about my safety and its affect on our chil
Russ has never paid a dime in child support since I left him. He owes
more than twenty-five thousand dollars. I could pursue various state
and even federal legal action against Russ, but so far I have not. I
have the paperwork all ready to file against him any time I need to.
But I consider this my "ace in the hole" against him. I am sure he knows
that if he does anything really harmful to me or the kids, I am in a
position to have him jailed for willful non-support. This keeps
him away from us, and that is a lot more impor
In the course of one of the trials for criminal non-support, I learned an amazing story about my original custody judge. God knows why, but apparently the judge finally "got it" about Russ. I have it on good authority that the original judge said to an attorney who had been appointed to represent the children, "This case is like Sleeping with the Enemy [the Julia Roberts movie about domestic violence]. This guy is crazy. There should be an automatic protective order for the children." He also said to the new custody judge, "This guy [Russ] is a ticking bomb."
It has taken me a long time to come back emotionally from the trauma
of what Russ did to me and the children. As a child and young woman,
I was a happy and light-hearted person. The years of abuse by Russ
and then the legal system turned me into someone very differ
As I said, it reached the point where Russ could no longer make me cry. But you do not just turn off your emotions toward one person; you turn them off for everything. Several years after I left Russ, one of my brothers died. I could not cry at his funeral. Slowly my ability to feel is coming back; recently I have been able to cry again, at least sometimes. But I will never be the jovial person I once was. Russ's abuse robbed me of many moments of both joy and sorrow that I should have experienced.
My children and I have a pretty good life. I am now forty years old. I recently bought a new house and we are settling in pretty well. For the past five years, I have had a new man in my life, Ken. He is wonderful, kind, and gentle with me and the kids.
However, Russ still affects our lives. He lives in a nearby county, so I am still afraid of what he might do to me or the children. Wherever I go, I always want to face the door so I can see him if he should come in. I'll never be free until one of us -- Russ or me -- is dead.
Elizabeth, now twelve, has not seen Russ since he lost visitation.
She understands the kind of person he is and she does not want to have
anything to do with him. All things consid
I worry that, because of Russ, Elizabeth will find it hard to trust people, especially men. I have made it a point to have good, kind, and gentle men around my children, not just Ken but also my brothers, men I work with, etc. And I do not allow gender bashing in my house or on the sports teams I coach. I do not allow boys to say bad things about girls, and I do not allow the girls to put down all boys either.
Still, Elizabeth is wary of what men might do in intimate relationships. When I have talked with Elizabeth about the possibility that Ken and I might get married, she says, "Mom, I'm worried that he'll turn out to be like Dad." I encourage her to look at how Ken treats people and how it is so different from Russ. But I understand her fear.
It's even harder on Daniel, now eleven. Of all my children, I worry
about him the most. Daniel goes back and forth about Russ. He still wants
to have a relationship with his father. That is only natural for a boy
approaching adolescence, I guess. Besides, Russ had custody of him; that
led to a certain closeness, even if Russ did abuse him. Though there's
no visitation, Daniel and Russ continue to talk on the phone and Russ
continues to manip
I know Daniel is holding in a lot of anger and confusion. I worry what that is doing to him. Sometimes he lets the anger go, and that is very scary, especially now that he is getting bigger. It will not be long until he will be bigger, probably much bigger, than I am. I worry whether or not I will be able to control him.
At times Daniel completely denies the abuse. Other times, he says,
"I hated Dad when he did that." Daniel is mad at me for having Russ's
visitation terminated. He also blames him
Sometimes, Daniel defends Russ to me. Sometimes he will even say, "I'm just like my Dad and I want to be just like my Dad." When he does that, I reply, "I disagree," and try to point out the many ways that Daniel is caring and kind. It is a tightrope. I do not want to put Russ down so much that Daniel feels he must protect him. If you put the father down too much, the son can start to feel like he is no good too. On the other hand, I cannot let Daniel romanticize Russ.
Daniel does not remember Russ's physical abuse of me. He was too young. Sometimes Daniel indicates that he believes Russ and not me about the abuse. This hurts me so much, and scares me too. I try not to disparage Russ. Instead, I tell Daniel, "Keep an open mind. See whether things really support your dad's story or mine." I hope he comes to see his father realistically before it is too late.
As I mentioned, Russ continues to manipulate Daniel. He has said to Daniel, "Take money from your mother, lie to her about where you're going, and run away and come live with me." When Daniel told this to the children's psychologist, she was very firm, "Parents shouldn't teach their children to lie and steal."
Russ does other things to hurt and control Daniel. For instance, Daniel recently tried to call Russ from our home phone. He kept getting a busy signal despite repeated tries. When I called Russ from my office to see what was going on, I got right through. Russ then told me, as casual as could be, that he was blocking calls from our home phone number. How could a supposedly loving father do that to his child?
Recently, Daniel snuck out on the babysitter and met his father. I know Russ had arranged the meeting, showing his disregard for the legal order against visitation. I grounded Daniel for that incident.
I allow Daniel to call Russ sometimes. I think cutting off all communication against Daniel's wishes would make matters worse. I do record the conversations sometimes. I know Russ is always trying to get to me through what he tells Daniel. For instance, Daniel once said to me out of the blue, "Even if you and Ken get married, I'll never call him Dad." Well, I had never suggested that to Daniel. I am sure Russ told Daniel, "You know, if your mother marries Ken, you'll have to call him Dad." Interestingly, Daniel has said he thinks Ken and I should get married. He thinks it would be best if we all lived under one roof.
I cannot help but feel that Daniel's problems are tied to the years that Russ had custody of him. Those were such important, impressionable years when Russ had him and abused him.
To make matters even worse, Daniel has had such horrible experiences with therapists that he does not trust any of them. The therapist he sees now is someone I trust, and I make him go, but I understand his mistrust of therapy. The kids were so poked and prodded and mistreated during the custody battle; that is not something that magically goes away. This therapist has gained Daniel's trust somewhat, but progress is still hard.
I also worry about Richard, the child of my first marriage. He experienced
so much abuse from Russ, as well as seeing the abuse of me when he was
at a very impressionable age. Like Elizabeth, he finds it hard to trust
Ken. Some time ago, he said to me, "I don't think you should marry Ken
while Elizabeth and Daniel are still at home." He knows firsthand what
stepfathers can do. Richard and I both realize that he has shown some
People do not always understand the impact on our society of children
who have wit
Besides my job and my kids, HomeSafe is a big part of my life. I am on the Board of Directors. I volunteer on the twenty-four-hour crisis line at least one night every month. I think there have been times when I have really helped a woman by listening to her and saying "I've been there myself." People at work also know about my experience as an abused woman and sometimes seek me out for advice.
My kids are very supportive of my HomeSafe work. On nights when I am on the crisis line, they understand it is important. They like to hear my stories about women I have helped on the crisis line.
The children really came through during a recent period when a battered woman stayed at our house for six weeks. She was someone I worked with. Other people at work had learned about the abuse and came to talk to me. They asked me to talk to her, even though I did not know her well. I said, "I'm not going to force myself on her. She's already got someone doing that at home; I'm not going to add to her burden.  But tell her that I would be happy to talk to her if she would like to talk to me." Just a few hours later, she came to talk. She desperately needed to leave her abuser, and I said, "Why don't you come stay at my house?" She accepted and I called my kids and told them about her situation. Daniel could not have been sweeter or more supportive. He said, "Tell her everything will be okay. Tell her we've been through all this." He even offered to let her stay in his room.
From my work at HomeSafe, I know now how lucky I am compared to most battered women. In addition to supportive family, friends, and clergy, I had a good job and some money. In contrast, most battered women I have met through HomeSafe are trying to escape their batterers without any money or support from family or friends. Indeed, their family and friends have either encouraged them to stay in the relationship, have blamed them for the abuse, or have commanded them to leave before the women were ready. I also hear terrible stories about clergy telling women that "Marriage is sacred," or "This wouldn't be happening to you if you were right with the Lord," or "You must forgive him and reconcile your marriage." Additionally, I talk to women who might leave their abuser if they could be sure that they and their children would still have a roof over their heads and food on the table.
I give many speeches in the community about my experience as a battered woman. I share my story so people will understand that domestic violence happens to all kinds of women. I want them to know that there is still a lot we need to do to change the system. It is bad enough to be abused by someone who says he loves you; unfortunately, women today, like me, are often abused a second and third time by lawyers, psychologists, and judges.
I am public about the abuse for another, more selfish reason. I figure if I put myself in the spotlight, more people -- domestic violence workers, police, friends -- will be watching my back. If anything happens to me or my children, they will go looking for Russ.
I agreed to share my story with Professor Waits for the same reason that I speak in the community. If just one person reading this story comes away with a better understanding of abuse, it will be worth it. I am not going to go down quietly. I feel that Russ and the legal system took away my children, my money, and my life. They will not take away my voice.
The reader may now want to take several deep breaths or even put down
this Article for a while. If I have done my job as a storyteller, reading
Mary's story should have been drain
One of the strengths of narrative is that the reader can reach his or her own conclusions. The moral of an absorbing story will be different for different people. Below I've shared some of the lessons from Mary's story that are most important to me.
One of the most important elements of Mary's story is the support she received from her family, friends, and priest. As she herself noted, such support is all too rare for battered women. 
I am convinced that the loving support Mary received was an important reason why she escaped Russ as (relatively) quickly and successfully as she did. In saying this, I do not want to take away from Mary's own personal strength and resolve. She deserves all the credit in the world. I also do not want to minimize the importance of her relative financial security and independence. Women with limited access to money often have a harder time escaping abuse. 
But I must still insist, as Mary herself does, that emotional support matters. After all, Mary returned to Russ only once before leaving for good. We know that most women return many more times before making their final escape. 
Friends, family, and others must offer the right kind of support.
Often, even well-meaning people say things and have attitudes that
are very damaging, unhelpful and victim-blam
Even people who do not blame the victim can hurt her by insisting
that she leave the bat
In Appendix A, I have collected some "do's" and "don'ts" that supporters
of battered women may find helpful. I must emphasize that attitude is
more important than phraseol
Mary's friend who noticed and commented on her bruised arm also did
her a great service. She did not insist that Mary talk about it; however,
she did not pretend that she did not notice. Even if the victim is not
yet ready to discuss the abuse, such comments leave a door open. They
also communicate, contrary to what the abuser is always saying, that
When faced with someone else's problems, many people respond with, "What can I do? What difference can I make?" Here, the answer is clear: you might make a big difference, if you will. 
Friends and family sometimes downplay their ability to make a difference.
So do profes
Mary's story shows how important lawyers, psychologists, and judges are. Most of them, sadly, harmed Mary and her children. A few -- like the one psychologist she spoke to briefly, the lawyer who handled Daniel's return to Mary, and the judge who finally took away Russ's visitation -- helped her a lot.
It does not have to be this way. Other battered women I have interviewed
have had some
It should not really surprise us that professionals do so badly. They
can be sexist and vic
Domestic violence law is certainly far better than it has been in
the past. We have seen progress in the legislative, 
and executive 
arenas. Positive legisla
Changes in the law are important. With better law, good people (judges,
police, etc.) can do more and bad ones are limited in the harm they can
cause. Law can also have an educa
Mary's story shows, however, that the primary problem is not with
the law but with the human beings who interpret and administer it. The
legal system betrayed Mary, but not because it lacked the power to act
differently. The judges, psychologists, and lawyers could have protected
Mary and her children. They could have understood woman batter
Mary's custody judge easily had the power to find that full custody
with Mary was in the children's "best interest" 
and that Russ's visitation had to be supervised. 
The judge could have warned Russ, not Mary, that he had to be on his
best behavior or he would lose even supervised visitation. The judge
could have ordered Russ to undergo bat
My point is simple: this did not have to happen. Without in any way
ignoring or bending the law, Mary, the children -- and Russ -- could
have been dealt with appropriately. Mary and her children, especially
Daniel, may pay for the system's sexism, ignorance, and indif
The next lesson has to do not with what happened to Mary but with
how she was treated. Dr. Anne Flitcraft, probably the leading medical
crusader for domestic violence, put it best: "Process counts." 
Dr. Flitcraft recognizes that battered women will continue to encounter
difficult and hostile situations. 
Even the most competent and caring helpers cannot always make it "all
better" for the victim and her children. Despite this, Dr. Flit
In Mary's story, this lesson comes across loud and clear in how she was treated by the one sympathetic police officer and the one understanding psychologist. In both instances, these people were of little or no practical help to her. Yet, they did help. They helped by caring about her and acknowledging the validity of her perceptions and fears.  Their help gave her the strength to carry on and fight for herself and her children. In short, they empowered her.
Compare this to how the lawyers, psychologists, and judges treated
Mary. Their manner was cold, condescending, and downright mean. Even
with someone as strong as Mary, they caused her to doubt herself. They
were disempowering, even when they gave her sub
Other battered women are not so lucky. As one domestic violence advocate expressed it to me, "The tolerance level for what the system dishes out to victims varies from woman to woman."  Some, like Mary, push through it, although not without horrific damage to themselves and their kids.  Others give up and return to their batterers discouraged and disempowered. 
The depression, guilt, and low self-esteem observed in some battered
women are often by-products of the ineffective, disempowering responses
from the people to whom victims turn for help. 
For such women, battered by the system, as well as their partners, it
will be harder to escape again, 
although many do. 
They reasonably fear the unsympa
"Process counts" is an especially hard lesson for lawyers, I think.
By training and perhaps predisposition, they are likely to be "bottom
line" oriented. 
Many lawyers pay no attention to how they deliver news, good or bad,
to clients. 
They seem to think pro
When I emphasize process, I am not saying that lawyers and other helpers should not be straight with battered women. Because most systems remain unresponsive to domestic violence,  even the best lawyer will often have to deliver horrible, scary, dangerous news to victims: "the psychologist is going to recommend that the batterer get custody"; "this judge will not order supervised visitation"; "your ex-husband will not serve any time in jail for his violation of the protective order"; etc. The victim deserves to "hear it like it is" not just as a matter of respect and decency, but to assist her in planning to maximize her own safety and that of her children.  Still, how you tell it matters.
Dr. Flitcraft advises helpers in dealing with women such as Mary to
"[d]o with [the bat
Obviously, many of Mary's supposed helpers failed on this score. The
egocentricity of her lawyers and psychologists is appalling, unprofessional,
and, frankly, incompetent. To sat
Of course we all have egos; I am not suggesting that we can or should
do away with them. Nor am I suggesting that lawyers and other professionals
cannot exercise their indepen
In one area in particular, the helpers should have been more assertive with Mary. They should have addressed safety planning with Mary after she left Russ. As Mary indicated, she had no idea that she might be in danger; she was focused on her kids, not herself. Like many people, she did not know that the most serious abuse often occurs after a woman has left her batterer. 
A good lawyer or psychologist would have counseled Mary about safety planning.  Without scaring her, he or she could have said, "Listen, I've had a lot of experience with these kinds of cases. I must tell you that often men come after women who've left them. Let's talk about ways you and the children can be safer." Then, the lawyer and Mary could have worked through a safety plan, using questions like those in Appendix C. 
Failing to work with the battered woman can be disastrous in many
ways. First and fore
Ego also prevents helpers from seeing the situation accurately.  I agree with Mary that her psychologist's ego, first expressed as "we'll kick their ass," naturally succumbed to Russ's charm. When helpers' ego-needs are paramount, helpers are "easy pickings" for batterers. 
We cannot know what to do about domestic violence unless we listen
to survivors' stories. In them are the keys to solutions. Battered women
and formerly battered women are tell
Women like Mary tell us that mediation, joint custody, and couples
counseling can be ter
Proponents of mediation in domestic violence cases express a near-magical
belief in medi
Sometimes, it seems that battered women's voices are getting more and more lost. The field has become professionalized,  semi-respectable,  and partially funded.  There has been a parallel tendency to turn the focus away from the victims and toward the professionals. 
I do not want to be misunderstood here. I have absolutely no nostalgia for the "good old days" when shelters did not exist or led threadbare existences, and when a professor who wanted to teach Domestic Violence would have been laughed off campus. I have been doing domestic violence work far too long for such foolishness. I relish the voice, the power, and even the respectability that our movement has achieved. But people who really care about battered women must remain ever vigilant against those whose solutions come from their own professional experience and not from victims' lives.
The next several sections will examine some ways in which Mary's story illuminates recurring issues in woman abuse.
One telltale sign of abuse that has been largely ignored is what can be called "batterers as rulemakers."  In Mary's house, Russ set up many arbitrary, unfair rules, such as what television programs they would watch. This is typical of batterers. 
Barbara J. Hart, a leading national expert on domestic violence, notes
that "[a]ll [of the batterer's] rules are not equal. Batterers create
a hierarchy of rules with a concomitant hier
The four rules invariably most important to batterers are the follow
1. You cannot leave this relationship unless I am through with you.
2. You may not tell anyone about my violence or coercive controls.
3. I am entitled to your obedience, service, affection, loyalty, fidel
4. I get to decide which of the other rules are critical. 
The reader may be objecting, "But every family needs rules. The alternative
is chaos. Children especially need the discipline and predictability
that comes from having house
As a mother and wife, I absolutely agree that families need rules. Nothing is sadder than a house where "anything goes" and there are no rules; everyone is unhappy, especially the children.  Nor do I think that every rule, even if somewhat imposed by one family member over others, is abusive.
But rules are different in a batterer's house. They are never negotiated;
they are always imposed. 
And rulemaking is a one-way street: the batterer sets rules for
other family members, while he does exactly as he pleases. 
Russ ordered Mary not to watch com
The rules in a batterer's house are not just for his comfort and enjoyment.
They are an inte
In the functional family, rules are negotiated and renegotiated.
One partner may give in to the other, but both partners engage in some
give and take. The rules may not ful
Second, the batterer's list of rules is ridiculously long and ever
expanding and changing. 
While his partner and children are struggling to comply with his existing
demands, new and often contradictory rules are added. 
This again is in marked contrast with the non-abusive "dinner at
six" dad. We have all known non-abusive families where one member
(usually, but not always, the father) must be catered to, but his demands
Finally, there is the punishment imposed for non-compliance with rules.  The non-abusive man does not beat or rape his wife or children if dinner is not on the table at six. He may pout for a while, or whine, he may even occasionally yell. His reaction may be unhealthy, but the other family members do not live in terror of what will happen if the rules are not met.
Identification protocols for battered women should include questions
about rulemaking. 
Something like this would be good: "Every household has rules under
which it oper
H. How Physical and Non-Physical Abuse Work Together:
Deprives victim of all social support for the ability to resist.
Develops an intense concern with self.
Makes victim dependent upon interrogator
From other battered women: He moved me away from my friends. He didn't want to go anywhere unless he was with me. He would eavesdrop.
From Mary's story: Russ's
rude treatment of family and friends made them stop coming or come less
often. Russ would determine when and if Mary could go out (as in final,
MONOPOLIZATION OF PERCEPTION
Fixes attention upon immediate predica
Eliminates stimuli competing with those controlled by captor.
Frustrates all actions not consistent with compliance.
From other battered women: I was always scared he'd blow up. I had to dress up for him. Give him sex whenever he wanted. I had to control the children so they wouldn't bother him. It was like walking on eggshells.
From Mary's story: Same words re walking on eggshells. Watched "blood and guts" TV programs as Russ's requirements. Was to be available for sex to "make up" after fight.
INDUCED DEBILITY AND EXHAUSTION
Weakens mental and physical ability to resist.
From other battered women: He wouldn't let me sleep. He started fights at night. He wouldn't let me see a doctor.
From Mary's story: "All that night, he kicked me while we were in bed together. He turned the lights on and off all night. I got hardly any sleep."
Cultivates anxiety and despair.
From other battered women: He threatened to kill the cat. He said he'd take the kids. He said he'd have me committed. He said he'd burn down the house. He said he'd find me if I left.
From Mary's story: Russ said she'd "get the beating of her life" that night. After she left, he said he'd "get her" and make her death look like a suicide.
Provides positive motivation for compli
From other battered women: He took me on vacation. He bought me jewelry. He allowed me sex only when we "made up." Once in a while he really listened to me and seemed to care.
From Mary's story: Gifts
following severe attacks. Some good times, at least in the beginning,
when Russ was genuinely affec
Suggests futility of resistance.
From other battered women: He beat me up. He had me followed. He called me deluded.
From Mary's story: Beatings, stalking, called her "crazy" because of thyroid medication.
Makes cost of resistance appear more damaging to self-esteem than capitulation.
Reduces prison to "animal" concerns.
From other battered women: He told me I'm too fat. He'd call me names and touch me inappropriately in public. He put me down intellectually and sexually and said I was ugly.
From Mary's story: "Your thighs are fat. Your boobs hang down. No one else would want you. You're lucky to have me." Nearly convinces her to have her breasts enlarged.
ENFORCING TRIVIAL DEMANDS
Develops habits of compliance.
From other battered women: The bacon had to be cooked to a particular doneness. I couldn't leave a cup on the bathroom basin.
From Mary's story: Mary was not allowed to watch television comedies like "Cheers" or "M*A*S*H."
Source: Amnesty International, Report on Torture (1973), as adapted by Women's Shelter of Northampton, Mass., in Ann Jones, Next Time, She'll Be Dead 90-91 (1994).
Suggestions for increasing safety in the relationship
Suggestions for increasing safety when the relationship is over
Important Phone Numbers
Checklist of Items to Take
Source: When Violence Hits Home, booklet written by "You Have the Power ... Know How to Use It" Committee, Nashville, Tenn.
Making her afraid by using looks, actions, or gestures. Smashing things. Destroying her property. Abusing pets. Displaying weapons.
Using Emotional Abuse
Putting her down. Making her feel bad about herself. Calling her names. Making her think she's crazy. Playing mind games. Humiliating her. Making her feel guilty.
Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, and where she goes. Limiting her outside involvement. Using jealousy to justify actions.
Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming
Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously. Saying the abuse didn't happen. Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior. Saying she caused the abuse.
Making her feel guilty about the children. Using the children to relay
messages. Using vis
Using Male Privilege
Treating her like a servant. Making all the big decisions. Acting like the "Master of the Castle". Being the one to define men's and women's roles.
Using Economic Abuse
Preventing her from getting or keeping a job. Making her ask for money. Giving her an allowance. Taking her money. Not letting her know about or have access to family income.
Using Coercion and Threats
Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her. Threatening to "out" her. Threatening to leave her, to commit suicide, to report her to Welfare authorities. Making her do illegal things.
From the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project.
Associate Professor, University of Tulsa College of Law; e-mail:
. A.B., Cornell University, 1972; J.D., Harvard University, 1975. Member
of District of Columbia, Illinois, Florida, and New York bars. Member,
Advisory Committee for ABA Commission on Domestic Violence, "Educating
to End Domestic Violence" (the Advisory Committee was composed of about
25 legal academics, clini
The copyright holders, Kathleen Waits and the Houston Law Review,
hereby grant per
I'd like to thank Pam Anthony, University of Tulsa College of Law, Class of 1998, for her research assistance.
This article is dedicated to the FIVERS, feminist intimate violence
e-mail discussion group. I have learned more than I can say from
its members. To subscribe to FIVERS, send an expression of interest to
the list manager, Richard Blum, at
. Before acceptance on the list, potential list members are asked to
fill out a brief question
Words can never express the gratitude and admiration I feel toward
"Mary." Her generos
 See Sayoko Blodgett-Ford, Note, Do Battered Women Have A Right to Bear Arms?, 11 Yale L. & Pol'y Rev. 509, 526 & n.98 (1993) (stating that "[e] stimates of the number of families that will experience some form of domestic violence range from eleven to fifty-two percent"); see also Ronet Bachman & Linda E. Saltzman, U.S. Dep't of Justice, Violence Against Women 3 (1995) (reporting that annually an average of one million women suffer from violence by an intimate partner). See generally Lewis Okun, Woman Abuse 37-39 (1986) (providing estimates of the overall incidence and prevalence of domestic violence); Mildred Daley Pagelow, Family Violence 42-46 (1984) (discussing estimates of violence within marriages); Robert T. Sigler, Domestic Violence in Context 12 (1989) (discussing the prevalence of spousal abuse).
 See generally Ann Jones, Next Time, She'll Be Dead
31-48 (1994) (relating many sto
I use Next Time, She'll Be Dead as the first reading in my course
in Domestic Violence. It is a strongly feminist, angry, even sarcastic
book. Many students react negatively to its tone and resist the connections
it makes between domestic violence and other forms of oppression, such
as pornography and sexual harassment. Other students dislike Jones's
 See Joan Zorza, Protecting the Children in Custody Disputes When One Parent Abuses the Other, 29 Clearinghouse Rev. 1113, 1117, 1119 (1996) [hereinafter Zorza, Protecting the Children] (noting that batterers are more likely than non-batterers to seek custody and that fathers who actually seek custody win sole or joint custody 70% of the time). Zorza's article is an excellent introduction to child custody in domestic violence cases; indeed, I would recommend anything written by this engaging, "down-to-earth," and prolific author.
For an earlier, comprehensive review of the subject, see generally
Naomi R. Cahn, Civil Images of Battered Women: The Impact of Domestic
Violence on Child Custody Deci
 See Zorza, Protecting the Children, supra note 3 , at 1115 (noting that over half of men who batter their women partners also beat their children, that batterers often commit child sexual abuse and child abductions, that children may be injured when they get caught in the crossfire of violence directed at their mothers, and that adolescent and teen sons are frequently injured when they try to intervene on behalf of their mothers).
This is to say nothing of the psychological damage done to children
when their mothers are abused. See id. at 1115-17 (discussing potential
psychological injuries to children liv
 See generally Developments in the Law: Legal Responses to Domestic Violence, 106 Harv. L. Rev. 1498, 1505-51 (1993) (discussing both the traditional mechanisms of response to domestic violence and new state and federal responses).
 The same problem arises with other monstrous tragedies, such as the Holocaust. Steven Spielberg faced this dilemma in Schindler's List: how to make the audience really feel the unspeakable horror. Spielberg solved the dilemma with the girl in the red coat (anyone who has seen the movie knows what I am talking about). See Schindler's List (Universal Pictures 1993). Somehow, seeing thousands of people killed is less affecting than knowing that one, identified person has been murdered.
 See generally Jane C. Murphy, Lawyering for Social
Change: The Power of the Narra
There are a number of other authors who have discussed the importance
of narrative in domestic violence reform and who have changed the legal
debate about domestic violence through storytelling. See generally Leslie
G. Espinoza, Legal Narratives, Therapeutic Nar
Also, Beth Sipe and Evelyn J. Hall, in I Am Not Your Victim, provide
a book-length nar
 For discussion of issues associated with battered
women of color, see generally Linda L. Ammons, Mules, Madonnas, Babies,
Bathwater, Racial Imagery and Stereotypes: The African-American
Woman and the Battered Woman Syndrome, 1995 Wis. L. Rev. 1003 (discussing
the impact of race on African-American domestic abuse victims seeking
 In addition to talking with Mary, I held single,
lengthy interviews with two other bat
I also interviewed two female lawyers who are experienced in domestic violence cases. One of them, whom I call Laura Lawyer, practices in the city where Mary lives, but had nothing to do with Mary's case. The other, referred to as Amy Attorney, is Diana's lawyer.
 See Blodgett-Ford, supra note 1 , at 528 (indicating that batterers are typically kind and attentive during courtship).
 Refer to Part III.G infra (discussing the role of batterers as rulemakers who impose many arbitrary and unfair rules to control their partners).
 See Catherine F. Klein & Leslye E. Orloff, Providing
Legal Protection For Battered Women: An Analysis of State Statutes and
Case Law, 21 Hofstra L. Rev. 801, 827 (1993) (noting that "37% of all
obstetrical patients across race, class, and educational lines are physically
abused while pregnant" and that abuse "often begins or escalates during
Pregnancy as a trigger for battering is one aspect of domestic violence
that Lenore Walker got right in her book, The Battered Woman. See Lenore
E. Walker, The Battered Woman 105-06 (1979) [hereinafter Walker,
Battered Woman] (discussing the physical abuse fre
 See Walker, Battered Woman, supra note 13 , at 55-70 (describing the battering cycle which is comprised of three phases -- the tension-building phase; the explosion or acute battering incident; and the calm, loving respite); see also Lenore E. Walker, Terrifying Love 42-47 (1989) [hereinafter Walker, Terrifying Love] (same).
 See Walker, Battered Woman, supra note 13 , at 65-66 (noting that the third phase of the battering cycle is characterized by extremely loving, kind, and contrite behavior by the batterer).
 See Shelby A.D. Moore, Battered Woman Syndrome:
Selling the Shadow to Support the Substance, 38 How. L.J. 297, 319-20
(1995) (critiquing Walker's conclusion that a three-part "cycle
of violence" is an ever-present part of a battering relationship).
The Dobashes' findings and Moore's critique are consistent with Mary's experience and that of many other battered women I have met: the contrition phase, if it ever exists, is often not present if the relationship continues for any length of time.
 See Linda G. Mills, Intuition and Insight: A New Job Description for the Battered Woman's Prosecutor and Other More Modest Proposals, 7 UCLA Women's L.J. 183, 186 (1997) (discussing the author's personal experiences as a victim, in which she did not call the police, as well as the experience of many victims she has encountered who also did not involve the police).
Battered women's decisions not to call the police may be quite reasonable.
Given how poorly many police respond to domestic violence, see Donna
M. Welch, Comment, Man
 See Zorza, Protecting the Children, supra note 3 , at 1115 (indicating that many men who batter their female intimate partners also beat their children).
In battering relationships [the understood signals from the battered to the battered] become an extension of the pattern of domination itself, whether it be a nose scratch signal devised specifically for a mediation session, a drawn line gesture used repeatedly over the course of the relationship, or perhaps a fleeting facial change. A gesture that seems innocent to an observer is instantly transformed into a threatening symbol to the victim of abuse. It is a threat that carries weight because similar threats with their corresponding con
sequences have been carried out before, perhaps many times.
Id. (footnotes omitted).
There are many excellent law review articles on battered women. But I think the one by Fischer and her co-authors captures better than any other I've read what really happens in battering relationships. It includes extensive narratives from battered women. The Culture of Battering would be an excellent introduction for someone new to the subject.
 Refer to Part III.G infra (discussing the role of batterers as rulemakers).
 Refer to Part III.H infra (explaining batterers' use of both physical and non-physical methods of coercion and control).
 Battered women come from every conceivable background.
Some had happy child
Sadly, some people are so committed to victim-blaming that they refuse to believe that a battered woman might come from a happy, functional family. Ellen told me that she has often talks to people who insist that she must have had an unhappy childhood, or else she would not have been abused as an adult.
 Batterers often abuse alcohol and drugs, but their
substance abuse does not cause bat
When Love Goes Wrong is a superb self-help book for women in abusive relationships. I would also recommend it to anyone who knows a current or formerly battered woman and who wants to understand better what she is experiencing.
 See Jones, supra note 2 , at 87-88 (explaining that many battered women suffer from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder).
 Women stay in and return to abusive relationships for various reasons. Some go back because they think that would be best for the kids; some for economic survival reasons; some out of fear; some because they still have positive feelings about the batterer. See M.J. Willoughby, Comment, Rendering Each Woman Her Due: Can a Battered Woman Claim Self-Defense When She Kills Her Sleeping Batterer?, 38 U. Kan. L. Rev. 169, 186 (1989) (noting many of the reasons why battered women cannot and do not leave).
 See Fischer et al., supra note 19
, at 2132 (noting that abusers often maintain control over battered women
through social isolation because "limiting victims' interactions with
other people enhances the batterers' domination over the family by both
cutting off poten
 See Margi Laird McCue, Domestic Violence 108 (1995) (noting that batterers often do not come across as abusive individuals to the outside world, but maintain images as friendly and devoted family men).
 Just as battered women are not all alike, neither are batterers. Some batterers are charming and non-violent outside of the house, some are not. Some put their partner down in front of others, some do not. See Donald G. Dutton & Susan K. Golant, The Batterer: A Psychological Profile 22-23 (1995) (asserting that all batterers are not all alike and some may choose to verbally abuse their partners in addition to the physical abuse).
 Refer to supra note 26 and accompanying text (describing how batterers often isolate abused women from social contact).
 Refer to Part III.A infra
(discussing the importance of support from a domestic vio
 It is common for battered women not to identify themselves as such, even when they have been seriously abused. See Kathleen Waits, Battered Women and Family Lawyers: The Need for an Identification Protocol, 58 Alb. L. Rev. 1027, 1053-54 & n.134 (1995).
 Battered women typically leave several times before
leaving for good. See Larry L. Tifft, Battering of Women 80 (1993). Lack
of economic alternatives are an important rea
Some battered women, along with their children, end up homeless because they refuse to return to the batterer but then cannot find adequate long-term housing for themselves and their children. See Gretchen P. Mullins, The Battered Woman and Homelessness, 3 J.L. & Pol'y 237, 244 (1994) (noting that "[i]n the last decade, almost one-half of all homeless women were refugees of domestic violence"); Joan Zorza, Woman Battering: A Major Cause of Homelessness, 25 Clearinghouse Rev. 420, 421-22 (1991) [hereinafter Zorza, Woman Battering] (stating that battered women and their children compose a significant proportion of the occupants of homeless shelters and that many women are forced to return to their abusers due to a lack of housing).
 See generally Evan Stark & Anne Flitcraft, Women
at Risk 213 (1996) (noting that health care professionals have traditionally
failed to recognize the effects of domestic vio
 Refer to Appendix B infra (noting that batterers, like political torturers, often use sleep deprivation to control their victims).
 See Waits, supra note 31 , at 1049 (noting that lawyers are highly judgmental and notoriously poor listeners).
 Refer to Part III.E infra (noting that helpers must work with the battered woman to help her deal with problems and that they must not impose their solutions on her).
 Refer to Part III.D infra (explaining that process counts in dealing with battered women).
 See, e.g., 28 U.S.C. § 1738B (1994) (providing
for full faith and credit for child sup
 Battered women, encouraged by our victim-blaming society, often torture themselves with "what ifs," about both themselves and their children. See generally, Espinoza, supra note 7 , at 915-16 (noting that when battered women and children speak out about the abuse, society distorts their stories to make them "willing victims, liars, provocateurs, and crazies").
 Batterers are often charming and manipulative. See Lisa Marie De Sanctis, Bridging the Gap Between The Rules of Evidence and Justice for Victims of Domestic Violence, 8 Yale J.L. & Feminism 359, 372 (1996).
Because batterers often are charming and well versed in manipula
tion tactics, they can make excellent witnesses who actually help jurors draw on their "belief in a just world." For example, batterers [when they are defendants in criminal cases] often testify in a calm and collected manner that the victim was injured due to her drug or alcohol use, or that she became hysterical and needed to be restrained. Jurors may also rely on a defendant's position in society to deny the possibility that he committed the crime. For example, a juror may find it completely inconceivable that a religious person or a city councilperson could batter his partner. Even if the batterer does not testify, he will likely appear well-groomed and poised at the trial. Unless the defendant is drooling and unkempt, jurors may not be able to overcome their "belief in a just world" to evaluate the evidence fairly.
As Mary's story illustrates, many judges, psychologists and lawyers also want to believe in a just world and allow themselves to be fooled by batterers.
 Refer to Appendix B infra (listing common methods of coercion that batterers use).
 See Mahoney, supra note 7 , at 61-65. Mahoney's article, the definitive discussion on how leaving the batterer can increase the victim's risk, coined the term "separation assault" to describe those attacks that occur because a woman has decided to or has attempted to flee her batterer. See id. at 65. Like the Fischer article, supra note 19 , Mahoney's article is on my short list of "must read" law review articles.
When I talk to students and community groups about separation assault,
I point out that they already know that leaving is dangerous. I ask them
to think back over domestic vio
 Ward v. Ward, No. 95-4184, 1996 WL 491692 (Fla.
App. Dist. Ct. 1996), is a notori
The appellate court claimed that the trial court did not focus on
the mother's lesbianism. See id. Apparently, though, the trial court
had stated that it wanted the eleven-year-old, C.W., to have
the chance to live in "a non-lesbian world." See Kathryn Kendell,
The appellate court said that the father "has not been charged with
or convicted of any criminal offense since being released from prison.
He has also maintained stable employ
C.W.'s problematic behavior exhibited itself on numerous occa
sions while she was visiting with [her father and his new wife Rita]. During one visit, C.W. asked Rita if Rita had "ever been in love with a woman." On another visit, in reference to a particular part of the female anatomy, C.W. told Rita "I bet my daddy F's you there." On another occasion, when Rita had purchased a back massager, C.W. informed her that "You won't need my daddy if you have that, will you?" At another time, while playing with a doll at [their] home, C.W. undressed the doll and placed her fingers between the doll's legs. When Rita told her that such behavior "wasn't nice for little girls to do," C.W. responded, "I'm not nice." And, [her father] testified that, when he explained to C.W. that he did not allow her to watch R-rated movies, "[C.W.] said she done seen all this and that her mama...and [her female partner] sleep together. They do...some of the things that's in the movies." [Her farther] also testi fied that C.W. was withdrawn, did not use appropriate bathroom hygiene, did not have good table manners, did not keep her hair clean, and preferred to wear men's cologne.
Ward, 1996 WL 491692, at *2 (fourth, fifth, and seventh alterations in original) (emphasis added). The lesbian mother denied that her daughter had watched R-rated movies or was aware of the sexual relationship between her and her partner. See id.
Mary Ward immediately asked the appellate court to reconsider its ruling, but died of a heart attack soon after. See Kendell, supra note 44 , at 26.
Certainly elements of C.W.'s behavior, if indeed Rita Ward reported it accurately, raise concerns. Perhaps Mary Ward wasn't a very good mother, though having a daughter who prefers men's cologne doesn't raise any red flags for me. But I cannot support the court's minimization of the father's crime, combined with its obvious homophobia.
 See generally Zorza, Protecting the Children, supra note 3
, at 1122 (opining that "friendly parent" provisions, which "favor awarding
custody to the parent who will foster the better relationship between
the child and the other parent," are dangerous for battered women and
their children). Zorza could be describing Mary's situation: "Friendly
parent provisions actually encourage abusers to continue to use the children
as pawns in custody fights because even false allegations that a father
was denied access to the children fre
 Batterers often manipulate others, including family and friends, in order to coerce and degrade their victim. See De Sanctis, supra note 40 , at 372 (noting that batterers are often charming and manipulative); Joan Zorza, Recognizing and Protecting the Privacy and Confidentiality Needs of Battered Women, 29 Fam. L.Q. 273, 304 (1995) (explaining that abusers "frequently deny, minimize, lie...and manipulate others, including the courts, to further control and punish their victims").
 See generally Peter Finn, Statutory Authority in the Use and Enforcement of Civil Protection Orders Against Domestic Abuse, 23 Fam. L.Q. 43, 44-45 (1989) (noting that "[c]ivil protection orders provide the only remedy for abuse that is not yet criminal (e.g., intimidation or harassment)"; however, protection orders are limited and often suffer from a "lack of clarity and limitations of scope").
 Refer to Part III.D infra
(discussing how "process counts" and that it is important to treat battered
women with sympathy and understanding even if we cannot offer much con
 Refer to Part III.B infra (discussing the importance of professionals, such as lawyers, judges, and psychologists, in helping abused women).
 See Waits, supra note 31 , at 1035-36 (noting that female lawyers and law students often fail to address battering issues in affluent, educated clients because they do not want to believe that women like themselves could be domestic violence victims).
 Refer to Part III.H infra (describing how physical and non-physical abuse work together).
 According to Laura Lawyer, who practices in Mary's city, some custody evaluators will talk with outside sources to verify or disprove the abuse. Others will not. As Mary says, the real problem is that psychologists who will not look to outside information testify as if they somehow could know the facts just by talking to the couple and their children. Given what we know about the charm and persuasiveness of batterers, this is absurd.
 See generally Margaret Martin Barry, The District
of Columbia's Joint Custody Pre
 This is a very serious problem for abuse victims.
With some judges and professionals, a battered woman just cannot win.
No matter how she presents herself, she will not be believed. If she
is very angry, then she is "hysterical" or an "avenging bitch." See,
e.g., Myrna S. Raeder, The Double-Edged Sword: Admissibility of
Battered Woman Syn
 Author's note: as is typical of the Southwest, guns
are commonplace in Mary's city. Nationally, many people have guns in
their homes. See Mark Josephson, Fourth Amend
 For a superb discussion of theological and pastoral
issues raised by domestic vio
For a discus
 See Zorza, Woman Battering, supra note 32
, at 420 (discussing how domestic abuse has severe psychological effects
on children even when they are not themselves the vic
 Note that Mary felt that, as a non-intimate, she should not force herself on another battered woman. Rather, she should be available and caring. Refer to Part III.E infra (explaining that outsiders should not impose their will on the battered woman).
 I find that I cannot read battered women's stories for more than about one hour at a time, if that. I am filled with admiration for people who work with victims day after day without becoming burnt out or overwhelmed with rage at how our society treats domestic violence victims.
 See Joan Zorza, Mandatory Arrest for Domestic Violence:
Why It May Prove the Best First Step in Curbing Repeat Abuse, Crim. Just.,
Fall 1995, at 2, 2 (noting that in the United States, women must rely
on law enforcement, judges, and domestic violence advo
 Refer to note 28 supra
and accompanying text (citing sources arguing that a lack of economic
alternatives is the primary reason women return to batterers). Battered
women in the paid labor force also suffer from financial abuse and control.
See Walker, Battered Woman, supra note 14
, 132-38 (discussing the stories of several financially independent
women subjected to financial abuse and control by their partners). Batterers
will often force the victim to turn over all her money to him, or to
account for every penny spent. See generally Walker, Battered Woman,
supra note 14
, at 127-144 (discussing the variety of techniques batterers use
to economically control their partners including making them jus
 Refer to note 28 supra (noting that women often return to a batterer repeatedly before leaving for good).
 See Marjory D. Fields, Practical Ideas for Judges in Domestic Violence Cases, Judges' J., Summer 1996, at 32, 32 (noting that domestic abuse victims are often subject to the same victim-blaming attitudes as rape victims).
 See Elizabeth Topliffe, Why Civil Protection Orders are Effective Remedies for Domestic Violence but Mutual Protective Orders are Not, Note, 67 Ind. L.J. 1039, 1060 (1992) (explaining that the batterer often rationalizes his behavior by blaming his victim).
 Refer to Part III.E infra (discussing how family members and friends should offer support).
 I'm not implying that support will guarantee success.
The suggested words and atti
Perseverance also pays off. Family and friends must continue to offer
support, as much as they can, no matter how unreceptive the battered
woman appears to be or how many times she returns to the batterer. Mary
herself puts it this way, "What if you had a child who couldn't swim
but who insisted upon jumping into the deep end of the pool over and
over. Would you help her a few times and then give up? Would you say,
"Sorry, that's it, I've thrown you a lifeline X times, but no more'?
Of course not, you'd throw your child the life
Diana has had the best experience of all, though still far from ideal. She said, "My lawyer's been great." I spoke to the lawyer, whom I call Amy Attorney. It was clear to me that Amy is an ardent and knowledgeable advocate for Diana and other battered woman. And Amy, unlike the lawyers Mary had, is not driven just by money. She is handling the case pro bono. Although Diana is well-educated and has held important, good-paying jobs, she left her batterer and traveled to a new state with virtually no money. As is common, he retained the family home and all the family money. According to her lawyer, Diana and her children have been living in abject poverty.
Diana lives in a place where the local judges are fairly knowledgeable
about abuse and, on the whole, take it seriously. Although the custody
and visitation issues had not yet been decided when this Article went
to press, Diana's lawyer is confident that Diana will main
It's worth noting that Diana lives in a very progressive college town
in a liberal northeast
 See Waits, supra note 31 , at 1036-38 (arguing that both male and female lawyers fail to serve battering victims adequately for several reasons including fear of retaliation by batterers, identification with the batterer or the victim, or assumptions of incompetence on the subject); cf. Jones, supra note 33 , at 197-98 (contending that many physicians fail to diagnose abuse because of their bias against violence victims).
 See Waits, supra note 31 , at 1035 (concluding that acceptance of domestic abuse and victim-blaming may prevent lawyers from effectively representing clients who have been identified as battering victims).
 See Report of the Maine Commission on Gender, Justice, and the Courts, 49 Me. L. Rev. 135, 160 (1997) (stating that lawyers and judges often fail to appreciate the complex dynamics of domestic violence).
 See Jones, supra note 33 , at 197 (stating that physicians often fail to diagnose abuse because they do not recognize it); Waits, supra note 31 , at 1038 (arguing that lawyers' lack of training may lead them to neglect domestic violence questions).
 See, e.g., Waits, supra note 31 , at 1035-36 (positing that female lawyers resist because they identify with these battered women; male lawyers may also resist because they identify with the batterer).
 See, e.g., 18 U.S.C.A. § 922(d)(9) (West Supp.
1997) (stating that a person "con
Because the law was passed literally in the "dark of night" in September
1997 as part of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, no one claims
to know exactly how the traditional exemption for law enforcement personnel
was omitted. See id. Congressman Robert L. Barr, Jr. (R-GA), a pro-gun
conservative, is trying to repeal the retroactive ele
Positive legislative developments at the state level include statutes that ban mediation in divorce or child custody cases when domestic violence is an issue, see, for example, Alaska Stat. § 25.20.080(f) (Michie 1996); Minn. Stat. Ann. § 310.01 (West 1993), and statutes that make strong statements about the inappropriateness of awarding custody to batterers, see, for example, N.D. Cent. Code. § 14-09-06.2(1)(j) (1991).
 See, e.g., People v. Humphrey, 921 P.2d 1, 10 (Cal.
1996) (holding that in man
 Several governors, most notably Governor Richard
Celeste of Ohio, have issued par
 See, e.g., Trish Wilson, Will Paternal Paranoia
Triumph? The Organization of Angry Dads, On the Issues, Winter 1997 (Dec.
(reporting that the movement for "fathers' rights" has "wormed [its]
way into mailing lists and newsgroups devoted to domestic violence, rape,
and family law in order to derail legitimate discussion" and that one
group's newsletter, Men's and Father's Activism Report, has urged "support
of phone harassment of the National Domestic Violence Hotline").
 Best interests of the child is the overarching standard for custody everywhere. See generally Linda D. Elrod, Family Law in the Fifty States, 1994-95: Case Digests, 29 Fam. L.Q. 775, 809-13 (1996) (collecting cases applying the best interest standard in various contexts and states).
 See generally Robert B. Straus, Supervised Visitation and Family Violence, 29 Fam. L.Q. 229, 230 (1995) (noting that visits must be supervised when "a child's contact with a parent presents an ongoing risk"); see also Mara Youdelman, The Post-Separation Family Violence Relief Act: Its Impact On Custody and Visitation Cases Involving Domestic Violence, 13 Prob. L.J. 189, 190 (1996) (suggesting that courts should seek to protect both the abused parents and their children when crafting custody and visitation orders).
 See Christopher L. Griffith & Marna S. Tucker,
A Cry For Help: The Need for a Judi
 Anne H. Flitcraft, Presentation at the Family Violence and the Health Care System Symposium, Houston, Tex. (Feb. 6, 1997); see also Anne H. Flitcraft, Clinical Violence Intervention: Lessons from Battered Women, 6 J. Health Care for the Poor & Underserved 187, 187-97 (1995) [hereinafter Flitcraft, Clinical Violence Intervention] (discussing how doctors can improve their approach to battered women patients).
 See Flitcraft, Clinical Violence Intervention, supra note 84 , at 194-95.
 See Stark & Flitcraft, supra note 33 , at 174-80 (explaining that the helper's method in dealing with the battered woman can support or detract from the therapeutic goals of autonomy and empowerment).
 I am not saying that helpers must always go along
with the battered woman's percep
 See id. at 21-23 (observing that battered women's "symptoms" are caused in part by unresponsive community systems from which she seeks help). The "survivor" theory of battered women is discussed further in Part III.I infra .
 See Stark & Flitcraft, supra note 33 , at 165 (warning that dysfunctional interventions reinforce the woman's sense of helplessness); Mahoney, supra note 7 , at 65-66 (warning of retaliation attacks upon return to the batterer).
 See Gondolf & Fisher, supra note 89 , at 23 (stating that battered women are met with tentative responses from helpers and do-nothing attitudes from the general public).
 See Stark & Flitcraft, supra note 33 , at 165 (warning that dysfunctional interventions reinforce the derogatory comments of the batterer).
 See Waits, supra note 31
, at 1042-43 (explaining that when lawyers fail to ask women clients
about domestic violence, they aid the batterers' tactics of isolation
and victim blam
 See Gondolf & Fisher, supra note 89 , at 22-23 (stating that unresponsive community systems are themselves to blame for battered women's symptoms).
 See, e.g., Barbara J. Hart, Safety Planning for
Children: Strategizing for Unsuper
(discussing how to make unsupervised visits for children safer, even
though judges should not be ordering them). The Web site from MINCAVA
is superb; it includes Barbara Hart's collected works,
as well as many other valuable resource and links.
 Flitcraft, Clinical Violence Intervention, supra note 84
, at 195 (stating that by doing with the battered woman, you will help
her gain control, build her own sense of accom
 See Stark & Flitcraft, supra note 33 , at 208 (recommending that therapists review patients' risks and available options).
 See 2 Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr. & W. William Hodes,
The Law of Lawyering app. 1, at 584 (1989) (stating that the client,
according to Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.2, has the authority
to determine the purposes to be served by the legal representa
 See Sarah Buel, Presentation at the State Bar of
Texas Professional Development Program: Representing Domestic Violence
Victims and Offenders: Recommendations to Avoid Liability and Increase
Safety (Apr. 28, 1997) in State Bar of Texas Professional Development -- Representing
the Battered Woman: Effective Strategies for Civil Cases and Criminal
Defense 30 [hereinafter Buel Presentation] (reporting that women who
 See Waits, supra note 31 , at 1033-34 (explaining that family lawyers of both sexes often believe the myths that battered women enjoy being beaten or that they could leave the relationship if they wanted).
 See generally Mahoney, supra note 7
(explaining that the physical attacks on a bat
 Cf. Hazard & Hodes, supra note 105 , at app. 1 at 635 (stating that a lawyer should advise a client on moral and social aspects of the client's situation).
 When first discussing a safety plan with a battered
woman, a shorter plan, like the one in Appendix C
, may be less likely to overwhelm her. A very extensive safety plan can
be found on the Nashville, Tennessee Police Department Website. See The
Nashville Police Department, Domestic Violence (visited Jan. 17, 1998)
Yet another safety plan is contained in The Impact of Domestic Violence
on Your Legal Practice. American Bar Ass'n Comm'n on Domestic Violence,
The Impact of Domestic Violence on Your Legal Practice 2-11 to 2-16
(Deborah M. Goelman et al. eds., 1996). The book consists of a series
of short chapters discussing domestic violence in a wide variety of legal
contexts, including torts, tax, and sports law, as well as family and
 Refer to note 42 supra
and accompanying text (discussing how the incidence of vio
 See Flitcraft, Clinical Violence Intervention, supra note 84
, at 193 (supporting a conclusion that "the severity of the injury does
not predict immediate danger" by contrast
 This happened in Mary's story when the protective
order judge and Mary's own psy
 Refer to note 104 supra and accompanying text (stating that the helper's training and education may conflict with the woman's needs).
 Refer to note 87 supra
and accompanying text (stating that a helper's lack of under
 For an example of an appropriate attitude from one of the leading experts in the field, see Lee H. Bowker, Bowker's Response: On the Advantages of a Multidisciplinary Approach to Battered Woman Syndrome in the Courts, Domestic Violence Report, Aug./Sept. 1997, at 85. Dr. Bowker says, "I consider myself to be essentially a secretary to these [abused] women, amassing their personal expertise and transmitting it to other battered women who can use it to improve their positions." See id. at 86. He recounts that:
Before I had much contact with battered women, I believed that physical and sexual abuse were more important than psychological/cultural abuse. I still have letters from many battered women in my files in which the women take me to task for this assumption. Women have informed me on numerous occasions that the psycho
logical (meaning verbal) abuse was far more painful than their bruises.... I can not [sic] ignore these communications. For some women, physical and sexual elements are secondary to psychologi cal abuse. For others, economic and social factors figure heavily in the control equation. I can not [sic] prejudge a battered woman's experience of control and abuse. My job, both as a researcher and as an expert witness, is to draw out these experiences in the phe nomenological richness of their complexity and uniqueness.
Id. at 85-86. Refer also to Part III.H infra (discussing the importance of non- physical as well as physical methods of abuse, control, and coercion).
 See Buel Presentation, supra note 106
("Mediation, couples counseling, joint cus
 See Knowlton & Muhlhauser, supra note 117 , at 266-67 (presenting the case for mediation in certain family abuse situations).
 See id. (presenting Knowlton's "pro" position on
mediation in domestic violence). Knowlton concedes that victims of domestic
violence may be hesitant or fearful of con
However, there are procedures in mediation designed to protect the safety of the victim and reduce the anxiety associated with this pro
cess.... [A] type of "shuttle diplomacy" might be used....Mediation cannot be judged separately from the quality of the mediators who provide the service. Often, criticism leveled at mediation as a pro cess is really directed at "poor" mediation.... Well-trained mediators can and frequently do develop processes and establish guidelines that empower and enlighten the victims in domestic disputes. Such mediators balance power.... If the mediators cannot ensure such an environment, they will not proceed with the mediation process.... [T]o summarily dismiss mediation as an inappropriate process sim ply is another blow in our attempts to extricate our children from a system that continues to undermine their real needs and interests.
Id. (emphasis added). Note how Knowlton assumes that mediators can
tell when power is imbalanced and can, with a few simple techniques,
empower victims who may have been abused and disempowered for years.
See id. at 267. He assumes that mediators will know when they are unable
to ensure a safe environment. See id. But cf. Fischer et al., supra note 19
, at 2120 (stating that a scratch of the batterer's nose or an imperceptible
change in his facial expression may threaten the victim). Knowlton's
faith in mediators is all the more unjustified because it seemingly ignores
the impact of on-going threats from the abuser to the victim. These
are almost always present when the victim is seeking a divorce from the
batterer. See Fischer et al., supra note 19
, at 2120. Knowlton does not seem to understand that a battered woman
may well "make nice" during mediation, never giving a hint that something
is wrong, because the abuser has told her she had better not cause trou
In response, Muhlhauser notes that "mediated resolutions frequently
favor shared custo
 Frankly, I do not think anyone should take arguments
in favor of mediation in abuse cases seriously until they hear a survivor
of domestic violence say, "My case was medi
 See Diane Winters, Battered Women at the Forefront,
NCADV Voice (Nat'l Coali
 See Deborah Goelman & Roberta Valente, American
Bar Ass'n Comm'n on Domes
 See 42 U.S.C. § 10401 (stating that the purposes
of the Violence Against Women Act are to assist the states in their awareness,
prevention, and assistance programs about family violence, and to provide
for technical assistance and training relating to family vio
 See Winters, supra note 123 , at 1-2.
 See Fischer et al., supra note 19
, at 2126 (describing the two roles within the family suffering from
domestic violence as that of the rule-maker/rule-enforcer,
who is the bat
 See Fischer et al., supra note 19
, at 2126-32 (containing a superb discussion of rule
He has this macho male ego thing like, I am King Kong and no one is going to [control me]. If you don't do this then I'm going to beat you type of attitude. I'm the ruler, you go by my rules, if you don't, you know, you have to pay the consequences....
... This domination can be all encompassing: as one of the batter
ers...was fond of stating, "[y]ou're going to dance to my music...be the kind of wife I want you to be." Charlotte Fedders'[s] [the wife of a high ranking government official] account of the escalating rules imposed by her husband over the course of their seventeen year, extremely violent marriage is particularly illuminating about the range of control that abusers can exert. Her husband insisted that no one (including guests and their toddler children) wear shoes in the house, that the furniture be in the same indentations in the carpet, that the vacuum marks in the carpet be parallel, and that any sand that spilled from the children's sandbox during their play be removed from the surrounding grass. Charlotte was not allowed to write checks from their joint checking account. Any real or per ceived infraction of these rules could result in her husband beating her, or at the very least, the expression of his irritation that was fre quently a harbinger to a beating....
... One abuser...formalized [the rules] into a written document, where he set forth a list of conditions that his victim was to agree to in exchange for cessation of his violence. These conditions were: 1) the children were to keep their rooms clean without being told; 2) the children could not argue with each other; 3) he was to have absolute freedom to come and go as he wished, and could have a girlfriend if he wanted one; 4) she would perform oral sex on him anytime he requested; and 5) she would have anal sex with him. He enforced this document shortly after she "agreed" to it and contin
ued to sexually assault her until his death.
Id. at 2126-27 (footnotes omitted) (first, fourth, and fifth alterations in original).
 Hart, supra note 127 , at 259.
 Because "rules" have such a horrible connotation
for battered women, some victims may have a hard time establishing appropriate
rules for their children after the mother leaves the batterer. Ellen
told me she is grateful to her children's psychologist for encour
 See Fischer et al., supra note 19 , at 2126.
 See id. at 2126-27 (stating that battered women
have frequently reported that abus
 See id. at 2126-32 (describing a systematic pattern of control and domination of the abused through a batterer's use of rules); see also Griffith & Tucker, supra note 83 , at 23 (stating that domestic violence is about power and control and that batterers believe they have the right to make and enforce rules).
 See Fischer et al., supra note 19 , at 2121-22 (noting that abusers frequently restrict the abused spouses' access to money and destroy their personal property in order to gain control and instill fear).
 See, e.g., Griffith & Tucker, supra note 83 , at 23 (stating that isolation is part of a pattern of assaultive and controlling behavior).
 These were among the rules laid down to Sarah Buel
by her former batterer. Sarah Buel, Presentation at the Family Violence
and the Health Care System Symposium, Hous
 Compare Nancy E. Dowd, Work and Family: Restructuring
the Workplace, 32 Ariz. L. Rev. 431, 491 (1990) (stating that a functional
family recognizes individual rights within the family), with Mary Ann
Dutton, Understanding Women's Responses to Domes
 Compare Dowd, supra note 138
, at 490 (defining a functional family as a support network with one
of its main purposes being to act as the root of self- esteem),
 See Dowd, supra note 138 , at 491 (stressing that in a functional family there must be a recognition of individual rights).
 See, e.g., Fischer et al., supra note 19 , at 2126-28 (giving examples of batterers' rules and the violence resulting from any real or perceived infraction of these rules).
 Ellen told me that most of the time her batterer
wanted to be left alone when he entered the house; the children were
not to hug him. But then sometimes, without warning, he would be angry
because the children did not rush to greet him upon his arrival. Need
 See Fischer et al., supra note 19 , at 2131 (explaining that an abuser will use physical violence as punishment for failure to comply with the abuser's rules).
 In my earlier article, Battered Women and Family
Lawyers: The Need for an Identi
 See, e.g., Fischer et al., supra note 19
, at 2127 (listing one woman's account of the escalating rules imposed
by her abuser to exert control during the course of their mar
 See id. at 2139-41 (stating that women begin to feel shame and embarrassment as a result of the battery and attempt to minimize the violence by focusing on the positive aspects of the relationship).
 See Evan Stark, Re-Presenting Woman Battering:
From Battered Woman Syndrome to Coercive Control, 58 Alb. L. Rev. 973,
983 (1995) (stating that existing surveys com
 See Fischer et al., supra note 19
, at 2120, 2137-38 (rejecting conflict as the cause of abuse and
suggesting that the conflict tends to only be an expression of an attempt
 See Fischer et al., supra note 19
, at 2131-32 (stating that batterers use physical vio
 For instance, Ellen's batterer did not resort to physical violence very often. And the violence was relatively mild, compared to what many women experience. Ellen's batterer's violence consisted of grabbing her, although severely enough to leave bruises. He did not use more physical violence because he did not need to. According to Karla Fischer and her co-authors' research:
[T]he violence does not need to be a constant presence for the vic
tims to feel threatened that it could erupt at any point, nor does the explosion always have to be physical. Violence need only symbol ize the threat of future abuse in order to keep the victim in fear and control her behavior. For example, [one expert] has called property abuse "symbolic violence." The following accounts...explain how this could be so:
When I came back to the apartment, he had smashed every single piece of furniture in the bedroom. On the wall there was the red dress that I had worn to my office Christmas party the week before. It was stuck to the wall with a butcher knife through the heart.
I saw him standing out in the street with an ax handle over his shoulder, yelling for me to come out, and luckily I was at a house with people and a telephone to get help. So he trashed my car. There was glass all over the street from my car windows that he busted out. And he was walking... with the ax handle in his hand.... [When I saw the damage] I just fell on my car, I never cried so hard in my life. I could not believe it... there was glass clear over in this extra yard. And, it wasn't that it was a good car or anything. It was just the fact that it could have been my head.
Fischer et al., supra note 19 , at 2128-29 (fourth, fifth, and sixth alterations in original) (footnotes omitted).
Fischer and her co-authors comment: "In fact, physical abuse
may only be utilized by abusers who are too unsophisticated to be able
to control their victims with verbal or sex
[T]he clinical profile revealed by battered women reflects the fact that they have been subjected to an ongoing strategy of intimida
tion, isolation, and control that extends to all areas of a woman's life, including sexuality; material necessities; relations with family, children, and friends; and work. Sporadic, even severe, violence makes this strategy of control effective. But the unique profile of "the battered woman" arises as much from the deprivation of liberty implied by coercion and control as it does from violence-induced trauma.
Id. (footnote omitted).
 I am inclined to agree with Susan McGee, Executive
Director the Domestic Vio
This distinction helped me reach a satisfactory resolution of a question
that had long trou
Note that my conclusion is not based on the fact that Alice is portrayed as a "tough cookie" who sometimes talks back to Ralph. Many battered women are, like Mary, "sassy" and many continue to fight back against their batterers.
 See Rhonda Copelon, Recognizing the Egregious in
the Everyday: Domestic Vio
 Refer to Appendix B infra.
 Refer to Appendix B infra.
 See Copelon, supra note 154
, at 306-09, 319-20 (describing historical periods in which
torture has been used as a tool of absolutism and explaining that the
 Refer to Appendix B infra.
 See Jones, supra note 2
, at 89 (describing how batterers use occasional physical vio
 See Copelon, supra note 154 , at 292.
 In my opinion, the whole domestic violence movement
has been helped far more than it has been hurt by the O.J. Simpson case.
There are certain events that occur -- Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas
was another example -- where nothing is ever quite the same in
 See Jones, supra note 2 , at 93 (observing that, in fact, battery can occur "without physical violence").
 See generally Walker, Terrifying Love, supra note 14 (identifying the theory that Walker calls "Battered Woman Syndrome").
 See Gondolf & Fisher, supra note 89 , at 17-22 (arguing that a survivor theory is more credible than a theory of learned helplessness).
 See Walker, Terrifying Love, supra note 14
, at 42-47 (explaining the "cycle of vio
 See Gondolf & Fisher, supra note 89 , at 95 (noting that sporadic batterers were the only type that appeared to conform to the cycle of violence).
 Refer to note 166 supra (disputing universality of "cycle of violence").
 Refer to notes 176-77 infra (discussing the on-going support for Battered Women's Syndrome).
 See Jan Berliner Statman, The Battered Woman's Survival
Guide 27 (1990) (defin
 See Gondolf & Fisher, supra note 89 , at 20-21 (discussing the reflexive approach to helpseeking).
 See Raeder, supra note 55 , at 798 & n.43 (distinguishing "learned helplessness" in animals and citing Martin E.P. Seligman et al., Alleviation of Learned Helplessness in the Dog, 73 J. Abnormal Psychol. 256 (1968)). According to Raeder, Seligman himself later stated that human beings did not respond in the same helpless fashion as dogs. See id. at 798.
Battered women's actions in killing their abusers contradict not only Walker's theory that battered women possess no control over their environment, but also the results from her study of abused women: the women saw themselves as having great control over what happened to them. Dr. Walker rationalized that this was because they manipulated their environment in order to avoid a beating. From her perspective, the women did not realize they were being controlled.
Dr. Walker's argument ignores an important factor: battered women who believe they have control over their environment do not fit Dr. Walker's model of learned helplessness. These women analyze what is necessary to control the batterers' behavior, develop a plan -- which may include leaving the batterer -- and attempt to carry it out. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes they are not.
Moore, supra note 16 , at 318 (footnotes omitted).
 Refer to notes 165-74 supra
and accompanying text (analyzing the failure of Bat
 See, e.g., Lou Brown et al., Stop Domestic Violence
42-51 (1997) (presenting Walker's cycle of violence and "learned
helplessness" as what happens in a violent-rela
 See, e.g., State v. Smith, 481 S.E.2d 747, 752 & n.5 (W. Va. 1996) (upholding the trial court's exclusion of an expert based on his conclusion that a battered woman who killed her abuser "did not meet the test [sic] book profile of a Battered Wife Syndrome Case").
 See Kristian Miccio, In the Name of Mothers and
Children: Deconstructing the Myth of the Passive Battered Mother and
the "Protected Child" in Child Neglect Proceed
In countless cases that the Albany Law School Family Violence Clinic or the Center for Battered Women's Legal Services has han
dled, [Miccio worked at both places] we have heard women recount how they had disposed of weapons, refused to reveal where chil dren were hidden, or stepped in between an assailant and her chil dren. These acts are examples of strategic and not-so- subtle forms of resistance intended to protect and to exercise a means of control with a limited context.
Id. at 1100 n.82.
 For instance, Dr. Walker has her own public relations firm. See Griffith, supra note 55 , at 146 (indicating that a public relations firm released a statement on Dr. Walker's behalf after she was criticized for agreeing to testify for the defendant in the O.J. Simpson case). Needless to say, those who disagree with Walker's Battered Women's Syndrome (academics, shelter workers, and other battered women's advocates) typically do not have public relations firms representing them.
The criticism of Dr. Walker has been particularly intense since she worked on the criminal defense team for O.J. Simpson, even though she was never called to testify for him. See id. at 142 n.5, 145 (quoting Sheryl McCarthy, O.J. on Trial: One More Sellout in the O.J. Case?, N.Y. Newsday, Jan. 27, 1995, at A4, who reported that some advocates for battered women attribute Dr. Walker's decision to testify for O.J. to the fact that she is "a greedy publicity seeker and promoter of false information...[who] has exploited battered women to advance her own career" (alterations in original)). Griffith also noted in her article that:
Dr. Walker's critics are not convinced that her motives for agreeing to testify as an expert on behalf of O.J. Simpson are purely objec
tive. Some believe that by agreeing to testify for a defendant-bat terer she is nothing more than a "domestic violence profiteer." "She's playing both sides....This woman was betraying not only my daughter, but all the women in this country who consider her an authority on this complex issue." (quoting the mother of a murder victim describing her view of Lenore Walker, who appeared as an expert for the man accused of murdering her daughter).
Id. at 146 n.29 (citations omitted) (alteration in original).
I can no longer defend Dr. Walker as an individual, but I continue
to defend her ground
 See Dutton, supra note 138 , at 1195-96 (discussing the diversity of battered women's reactions). On battered women's diverse psychological reactions, See id. at 1225-26. Dutton's writings are especially rich because they are informed by her extensive work with battered women. Refer also to Part IV.A infra (declaring that there is no such thing as a "typical" battered woman).
 See id. at 1220 (citing the example of a woman who never considered calling the police after a beating because as a child, she had observed that the police were completely disinterested and ineffective when her battered mother called them for help).
 See Gondolf & Fisher, supra note 89 , at 11-25 (analyzing the "battered woman as a survivor" theory).
1. Severe abuse prompts innovative coping strategies from battered women and efforts to seek help. Previous abuse and neglect by help sources lead women to try other help sources and strategies to lessen the abuse. The battered woman, in this light, is a "survivor."
2. The survivor may experience anxiety or uncertainty over the prospects of leaving the batterer. The lack of options, know-how, and finances raise fears about trying to escape the batterer. The bat
tered woman may therefore attempt to change the batterer instead of attempting to leave.
3. The survivor actively seeks help from a variety of informal and formal help sources. There is most often inadequate or piecemeal helpgiving that leaves the woman little alternative but to return to the batterer. The helpseeking continues, however.
4. The failure of help sources to intervene in a comprehensive and decisive fashion allows abuse to continue and escalate. The inade
quacy of help sources may be attributed to a kind of learned help lessness experienced in many community services. Service providers feel too overwhelmed and limited in their resources to be effective and therefore do not try as hard as they might.
5. Battered women as survivors of abuse need, most of all, access to resources that would enable them to escape the batterer. Commu
nity services need to be coordinated to assure the needed allocation of resources and integrated to assure long-term comprehensive intervention.
Id. at 12. In a similar vein, Professor Fischer and her colleagues
speak of the ways in which battered women directly resist and rebel against
the abuser. See Fischer et al., supra note 19
, at 2133-37. The women do not "give in" all the time. See id. at
2133. Instead, they will sometimes confront or challenge his authority,
even though such confrontations are invariably met with violence. See
id. Mary did this in her continued efforts to see her fam
For an attempt to reconcile the survivor theory with Battered Women's Syndrome, see generally A. Renee Callahan, Will the "Real" Battered Woman Please Stand Up?: In Search of a Realistic Legal Definition of Battered Woman Syndrome, 3 Am. U. J. Gender & L. 117 (1994) (attempting to reconcile the Survivor Theory with Battered Woman's Syndrome).
 Even an emphasis on battered women as survivors
rather than victims has its pluses and minuses. See Margaret Martin Barry,
Protective Order Enforcement: Another Pirou
 See Mahoney, supra note 7
, at 29-30 & n.119 (stating that Lenore Walker's distinc
 See Cahn & Meier, supra note 55
, at 359 (discussing battering theory in non-hetero
 See Raeder, supra note 55 , at 801 (stating that the experience of battered women encompasses psychological reactions that are not limited to one profile).
 See Dutton, supra note 138 , at 1227-31 (reviewing the contemporary literature and the differing methods of coping they suggest).
 See id. at 1225-26 (discussing how battered
women in a particular counseling pro
 See Joan S. Meier, Notes from the Underground: Integrating Psychological and Legal Perspectives on Domestic Violence in Theory and Practice, 21 Hofstra L. Rev. 1295, 1312-14 (1993) (discussing the various phases of post-traumatic stress for a battered woman).
 See generally Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery
51-73 (1992) (discuss
An excellent discussion of how the observable reactions of battered
women can be explained without resorting to the "learned helplessness"
theory is provided in Gondolf & Fisher, supra note 89
, at 21-22. Symptoms such as low self-esteem, guilt, self-blame,
depression, vulnerability, and futility "may represent traumatic shock
from the abuse, a sense of commitment to the batterer, or separation
anxiety amidst an unresponsive com
 Refer to notes 192-97 supra and accompanying text (explaining that there is no such thing as a typical battered woman).
 See Cahn & Meier, supra note 55 , at 355 (noting a lack of adequate theory about men who batter).
 See Holly Maguigan, Battered Women and Self-Defense:
Myths and Misconcep
 See Donna M. Welch, Mandatory Arrest of Domestic
Abusers: Panacea or Perpetu
 See Jennifer Baker Fleming, Stopping Wife Abuse 287-96 (1979) (analyzing the profile of a batterer and stating that society equates strength with masculinity and that a man's own weakness leads to his need to control); see also Susan Schechter, Women and Male Violence 258 (1982) (stating that male domination leads to woman abuse); Daniel Jay Sonkin & William Fazio, Domestic Violence Expert Testimony in the Prosecution of Male Batterers, in Domestic Violence on Trial 218, 225 (Daniel Jay Sonkin ed., 1987) (reporting how some experts believe men batter as a result of a need to control). For an example of how this learned dominance gives men an advantage in higher education, see Lani Guinier et al., Becoming Gentlemen: Women's Experiences at One Ivy League Law School, 143 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1, 2-6 (1994) (arguing that gendered stratification in law school favors men over women in class and employment opportunities).
 Refer to Appendix B infra.
 Cf. Adrien Katherine Wing, A Critical Race Feminist
Conceptualization of Vio
 See Elizabeth M. Schneider, Particularity and Generality:
Challenges of Feminist Theory and Practice in Work on Woman Abuse, 67
N.Y.U. L. Rev. 520, 544 (1992) (stat
 See Raeder, supra note 55 , at 153-54 (listing three types of batterers: (1) men who are violent solely in relationships with women, (2) antisocial psychopathic batterers who are violent inside and outside the home, and (3) sociopathic batterers who are often violent inside and outside the house, were abused as children, and have criminal records).
 See Victoria L. Lutz & William R. Slye, Where Criminal Mischief is Not a Crime, N.Y. L.J., Oct. 31, 1997, at 1 (reporting that under New York law, husbands can lawfully destroy their wives' property because a husband has an equity interest in that property); see also State v. Engle, 684 N.E.2d 1311, 1313 (Ohio Com. Pl. 1997) (discussing the effects of a pattern of abuse that included the wife's nose being bitten and the death of two of her children).
 See Willoughby, supra note 25 , at 186 (stating that a batterer can be relentless in pursuit of "his woman").
 See Klein & Orloff, supra note 13 , at 1129 (stating that after a death or separation, a batterer often moves on to another victim).
 See Developments in the Law, supra note 5
, at 1602-03 (stating that some batterers use mediation to enhance
their chances of gaining custody and perpetuate further abuse on the
woman); Linda R. Keenan, Note, Domestic Violence and Custody Litigation:
The Need for Statutory Reform, 13 Hofstra L. Rev. 407, 411-12 (1985)
(stating that the his
 The most thorough review of batterers' programs
to date is currently being done by Professor Edward W. Gondolf of the
Indiana University of Pennsylvania and several co-researchers. The
preliminary findings are located at
The Web site specifically indi
Professor Gondolf and his colleagues have found that batterers vary significantly in their response to even quality batterers' intervention programs. They summarize their findings as follows:
The "model" batterer programs appear to contribute to the cessation of assault at least in the short-term. The majority of women indicate their "quality of life" has improved and that they feel "very safe." A portion of batterers, however, appear to be resistant and unrespon
sive to intervention. They reassault soon after program intake, repeatedly reassault, and/or cause significant distress and fear in their partners.
Not surprisingly, Gondolf and his colleagues found "those cases with the least mental and substance use problems, attending the most counseling sessions, and receiving additional services [had] the lowest reassault rates and better quality of life for the women."
The researchers also found that dropout rates from all the programs they studied were quite high, ranging from about 1/3 to nearly 1/2, with most of the dropouts occurring early in the program. The men that dropped out were, not surprisingly, more likely to reassault their partners than those that stayed for at least three months of a program.
It should also be emphasized that the programs studied by Gondolf
were all at least three months long and had direct linkages to local
battered women's shelters. Sadly, many bat
 See Kathleen Waits, The Criminal Justice System's
Response to Battering: Under
 See Cheryl Hanna, No Right to Choose: Mandated Victim Participation in Domestic Violence Prosecutions, 109 Harv. L. Rev. 1849, 1893 (1996) (explaining how the criminal justice system has contributed to this great progress).
 See Clare Dalton, Domestic Violence, Domestic Torts, and Divorce: Constraints and Possibilities, 31 New Eng. L. Rev. 319, 366 (1997) (discussing how increased public attention and sympathy given to victims of domestic violence has spurred a "backlash" in response to a fear that victims will gain an unfair advantage); see also Developments in the Law, supra note 5 , at 1616 (recognizing remaining deficiencies in the system despite strong improvements).
 See, e.g., John Marzulli, Home Violence Swells, Rise in Homicide, Rape & Assault, Daily News (N.Y.), Dec. 30, 1997, at 10, available in LEXIS, Nexis Library (quoting the head of the Citizens Crime Commission for the proposition that "[t]he legal system is still not geared to treat domestic violence with the same level of seriousness" as other violent acts).
 See Keenan, supra note 217 , at 411 (stating that despite specific laws, violence against women continues at alarming rates).
 See Greg Hernandez & Jeff Kass, Custody Case Report Cited Children's Bond to Simpson, L.A. Times, Mar. 18, 1997, at A3 (detailing the impact the psychologists' report played on the court's decision to grant custody to Simpson).
 The jury in Simpson's civil case found, by an 11-1
vote, that punitive damages should be awarded against him. See William
Booth & William Claiborn, Simpson Plain
 See, e.g., Catherine A. MacKinnon, Sexual Harassment
of Working Women, 171-73 (1979) (explaining how recognition of individual
wrong, rather than societal failure, pre
 Mary did tell me that her female psychologist -- the one who thought that she was feigning abuse -- was not allowed to testify by one of the local judges who is considered excellent on domestic violence cases.
 See Waits, supra note 31
, at 1058-59 (stating that while there is a lack of knowledge regarding
the typicality of false reports, women rarely make them due to the ensuing
 See Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse 28-29 (1978) (stating that the audience of a narrative will respond to a narrative interpretation by filling in gaps of the story with an undaunted inferential capacity); see also Roland Barthes, Image -- Music -- Text 142 (Stephen Heath trans., 1977) (stating that as soon as a fact is narrated, a disconnection occurs which results in the loss of the author's voice).
 Refer to note 23 supra (providing materials and discussion on the relationship of alcoholism and domestic violence).
 This is precisely what happened in State v. Ciskie, 751 P.2d 1165 (Wash. 1988). The victim, who had been brutally raped by her abuser several times over a period of many months, finally called the police after reading a front-page newspaper article about a woman being killed by her batterer. See id. at 1166-68. She testified, "I just started reading it [the newspaper article] and I said to myself, "[I]f you don't do something right now, your kids are going to be reading your name in the paper. Just like this." Id. at 1168 (second alteration in original).
 See Paul Brest & Ann Vandenberg, Politics, Feminism,
and the Constitution: The Anti-Pornography Movement in Minneapolis,
39 Stan. L. Rev. 607, 624-42 (1987) (reporting how pornography victims'
stories, like battered women's stories, opened peo
 Sometimes all it takes is hearing a story from someone
who is "like you" or like your sister, mother, etc. Educated people sometimes
become sensitized after listening to the stories of educated women like
Mary. It is sad that people often dismiss stories from women who are
different from them, whether it is by class, race, religious, or sexual
MAIN PAGE | COLLECTIONS
HISTORY LIBRARY | RESEARCH ROOMS
| THE READING ROOM
FATHERLESS CHILDREN STORIES | THERAPEUTIC JURISPRUDENCE | WOMAN SUFFRAGE TIMELINE | THE LIZ LIBRARY ENTRANCE
as otherwise noted, all contents in this collection are copyright 1996-2009
the liz library. All rights
This site is hosted and maintained by argate.net Send queries to: sarah-at-thelizlibrary.org