Battered Women's Help-Seeking: Silenced and Sanctioned

Angela M. Moe, Western Michigan University

Since the inception of the battered women's movemement in the 1970s, victim-based programs, social service agencies, and law enforcement entities have increasingly turned their efforts toward addressing domestic violence. Rallies, fundraisers, and public service announcements have also abounded. So much attention has been focused on intimate partner violence that it would appear as if every woman who needed assistance and protection would be able to find it. This paper counters such perceptions through the narratives of nineteen residents at a domestic violence shelter in the Phoenix-metropolitan area. These women were by definition active and successful help-seekers as they had all obtained bed space at an emergency shelter However, their explanations of help-seeking, while numerous, were overwhelmingly fraught with failure, disappointment, and disenmpowerment. Concerns over the current status of the battered women's movement, administrative practices in victim-based agencies, and continued societal complacency toward domestic violence are among the issues addressed.

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Updated 05/20/2006