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A key question facing researchers of intimate partner violence is how the real-life contexts of victims’ lives should affect state policy. The bulk of recently adopted and much touted criminal justice reforms have taken the form of relatively inflexible, one-size-fits-all mandatory responses focused on counseling, restraining, and punishing batterers. Even the protection order system relies far more heavily on batterer treatment programs than on victim support to prevent future violence. Together, these reforms have largely sacrificed the contextualized, woman-centered focus from which the anti-domestic violence movement originated. Recently, however, a small body of research has emerged indicating that responding flexibly to victims’ needs and providing them with advocacy and broad social support could be a more successful strategy for keeping women safe. These data highlight the importance of expanding victim-centered resources and reincorporating a particularized perspective into current policy and practice. Development of this literature should guide future reform efforts.

Publication Citation

20 J. Interpersonal Violence 479-487 (2005)