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The 'Bitch Tape': How Male Batterers Find The Woman in the State

  • Author(s): Mahan, Margo M.
  • et al.

Women’s experiences have been the nucleus of domestic violence literature, discourse, and policy, and have shaped the therapeutic and/or punitive measures that are characteristic of domestic violence prevention – measures that research has shown are largely ineffective in curbing violence. Consequently, we still know relatively little about why men batter, and how they make sense of the negative “batterer” credential that corresponds with their offense. The few studies that explore batterer behavior are primarily psychological, reducing their violence to individual pathology that can be “treated” in therapy. Accordingly, non-psychological studies are characterized by evaluations of the utility, effectiveness, and/or therapeutic techniques of Batterer Intervention Programs, thus missing thesociologicalroots of batterer behavior. Drawing from in-depth interviews with 15 male batterers, my research shows that these men make sense of the offenses of which they have been accused in different ways, both with regard to the role they attribute to the state in their felt disempowerment and emasculation, and the role they attribute to their female victims. These different meanings are attributable to a number of factors – factors I argue must be addressed to the extent that they are linked to recidivistic risks of battering. The analysis presented in this paper therefore provides a foundation for creating more effective social remedies for battering behavior, and it provides an opportunity to reconsider gender-based theories of interpersonal violence more generally.

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