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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Violence Against Women: The Case of Wife Beating (Part One/Part Two)

  • Author(s): Brueckner, Margrit
  • et al.

The purpose of Part One is to give an overview of the international literature, the theoretical approaches as well as the empirical findings; it is intended to be a resource document. “Wife beating” is still a comparatively new field of research: The phenomenon was uncovered less than ten years. For example, in Germany research in this field is still very much in its beginnings; in the U.S., it is in the stage of gathering extensive material; and exploring useful theories to explain the phenomenon. Thus, it seems both necessary and appropriate to compile a detailed report on the most relevant international literature and findings.

In Part Two I try the experiment of looking into the problems of wife beating by looking into the general image of women, especially concerning their relationships. To do this, I will gather the splinters of my own experience in a shelter for battered women, which became an adventure into women’s lives, into the lives of battered women, of the non-battered women working at the shelter, and of my own. The experience in the shelter also taught me that women, even long term battered women are capable of changing their life-situation and of changing themselves; both starting out with a fascinating effort of breaking away, of becoming free and freeing themselves.

Using the method of participatory research in this setting rather than interviewing or using questionnaires enabled me to view the problem from the inside and to bring the subject to life. It gave me the chance of subjective involvement into the phenomenon and enabled me to experience some of the strains and hardships of the battered wives myself through observation of the effects. So I became an engaged subject rather than a neutral observer, a position that helped me avoid some of the misconceptions of research that helped me avoid some of the misconceptions of research approaches, like gender unspecificity, construction of victim-precipitated crime or the creation of personality types of battered women (as discussed in Part One).

Note: These two working papers (combined here into one pdf) were originally published by the Institute for the Study of Social Change, now the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues. Note that Part Two does not include a page 59.

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