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Neil Websdale and Byron Johnson

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Reducing Woman Battering: The Role of Structural Approaches

According to Neil Websdale and Byron Johnson, intrafamilial violence directed against women is part of a set of structural relations and social practices that allow men to dominate, oppress, and exploit women. At its heart are the intersecting power relations of gender and class. The authors’ case study of the Kentucky Job Readiness Program between 1990 and 1994 reveals that woman battering must not be seen astructurally as a criminal justice problem (with the usual emphasis on mandatory arrest), but rather structurally as an economic, public health, labor, housing, human rights, and educational issue. The article convincingly argues that structural interventions (especially providing independent housing and employment, but also helping with transportation, etc.) reduce revictimization in cases of domestic violence, with the implication that much more funding should be made available for such preventive programs. Beyond these steps, however, if the power imbalance between men and women in abusive relationships can be effectively altered and revictimization subsequently reduced, then by moving toward equality for women in their relationships with men, could we not also lower the outbreak of woman battering in the first place?.

domestic violence; employment programs; Kentucky; shelters [social service]; victimization; women — battered; women’s projects and services

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 24: 1 (1997): 54-81