Women's needs/available choices, juxtaposing criminal justice response to wife abuse with women's words

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Minaker, Joanne Cheryl
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The purpose of this work is to explore whether feminist engagement with the state and law to address the problem of wife abuse has produced benefits in the lives of women victimized by male inti ate violence. This study does not examine the effectiveness of the criminal justice response in terms of the merits and drawbacks of policy, but provides women's own evaluations. In this work I attempt to show how changes introduced, largely in response to the Battered Women's Movement, were "worked out" in the lives of the women; that is, what are the practical implications of these changes as experienced by the women themselves? Although several feminist writers have theorized about the usefulness of engaging the state, this analysis differs in that the criteria used to assess "success" are the needs of women in abusive relationships. Further, rather than base the analysis on apriori assumptions on what women need, women's needs are problematized. The needs the women identify then become the basis from which to understand the impact of the criminal justice system's response to wife abuse. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)