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Women who have been battered : their experiences of the criminal justice system Rivkin, Shelley Claire 1993

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WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN BATTERED:THEIR EXPERIENCES OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEMBySHELLEY CLAIRE RIVKINB.A., Simon Fraser University, 1973B.S.W., The University of British Columbia, 1988A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF SOCIAL WORKinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESSCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORKWe accept this thesis as conformingto the^d standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASeptember 1993© Shelley Claire Rivkin, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(SignatureDepartment of  ,S0^0 ,as‘cThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate c"..) c_-r o r3 rz.^, ^1 5 1 3DE-6 (2/88)AbstractTitle:^Women who have been battered:Their experiences of the criminal justice systemIn 1985, policy initiatives were introduced to support women who havebeen battered and to impose sanctions on batterers. With this greater emphasison criminal justice remedies, social workers have an important role inassisting women through the justice system. They need to know, from the womenthemselves, what their experiences are with the justice system and to havethem articulate in their own words the factors that motivated or enhancedtheir decision to proceed.Eight qualitative interviews were conducted with women whose partnerswere charged and convicted of assault using an open ended interview format.This exploratory study examines their changed perception of the violence,their experiences with the criminal justice system, and their perceptions ofthe factors that enabled them to proceed and persist with the process.The findings were organized into four categories: heightened awarenessof risk, criminalizing the violence, interaction with the criminal justicesystem, and surviving the process. Emerging from these four categories werethree themes that appeared to link the categories: the violence must bestopped, the importance of a personal connection, and pride in taking a stand.iiTable of ContentsAbstract  ^iiTable of Contents ^  iiiList of Figures  ^vAcknowledgements ^  viIntroduction  ^1Literature Review and Framework  ^6Why Battering Occurs  ^6The Changing Role of the Criminal Justice System  ^15Women's Experiences with the Criminal Justice System  ^27An Alternative Model of Helpseeking  ^36Methodology  ^44Method ^  44Sampling  ^50Descriptions of the Participants  ^54Data Collection  ^57Reliability and Validity  ^62Data Analysis  ^64Findings  ^72Heightened Awareness of Risk  ^74Perceptions  ^74Actions  ^76Beliefs  ^78Criminalizing the Violence  ^79Initial Contact with the Police  ^80Relinquishing Responsibility  ^82Safety vs. Fear  ^84Interaction with the Criminal Justice System  ^85Accessing Support  ^86Validating Feelings  ^88Empowerment vs. Powerlessness  ^91Surviving the Experience  ^95Personal Resilience  ^95Becoming Strong  ^97^Conclusions   100Integration of the Findings with the Literature ^  100Implications for Policy and Practice ^  113Limitations of the Study ^  123Implications for Future Research  129ii iBibliography ^  132Appendix A: Informed Consent Form ^  139Appendix B: Interview Guide ^  141Appendix C: Transcript of Sample Interview ^  144Appendix D: Final Clustering of Transcript Codes ^  160Appendix E: Certificate of Ethical Approval ^  161Appendix F: Agency Letter to Potential Participants ^  162ivList of FiguresFigure 1: Preliminary categories with corresponding properties  ^69Figure 2: Final categories with corresponding properties  ^71vAcknowledgementsI would like to thankThe nine women I interviewed, who gave so generously of their time and whoshowed me their strength, courage, and persistence in the face of adversity;Tracey Barker and Setsuko Hirose from Battered Women's Support Services, NinuKang from MOSAIC Family Violence Intervention Program, and Andrea Rolls fromVancouver Family Court, who supported this study by identifying and contactingwomen to be interviewed by me;Dr. Betty Carter and Professor Jack MacDonald, my thesis advisors, who guidedme through this process;Pat Ross, who encouraged and supported my efforts to work full-time andcomplete the master's program;Linda Light, who played a pivotal role in the initial development andimplementation of criminal justice policies designed to support and protectwomen who experience violence in their lives;Glenn Bullard, my partner in life, whose tireless editing and formatting madethis experience relatively painless for me, and whose gentleness and humourconvince me daily that men do not have to be violent to hold their place inthis world.viIntroductionIn 1976, an international tribunal on Crimes Against Women was held inBrussels, Belgium. Two thousand women presented or listened to personaltestimony about violence directed toward women. The tribunal participantsrejected the existing definitions of crime, as products of patriarchal rule,and determined that indeed all forms of women's oppression were criminal(Geller, 1988). While the tribunal participants did not suggest specificallythat women demand that their perpetrators be prosecuted, they did call for anexpanded definition of crime, to include the many forms of violence againstwomen. This provided the necessary catalyst to the feminist movement to pursuea more thorough analysis of existing legislation and criminal justice practicerelated to violence against women, and led to the development of a frameworkfor new legislation and policy changes where the need was indicated.In the area of violence in relationships, Canadian women focused on theneed for a comprehensive government response to examine the role of thecriminal justice system in charging and convicting men who battered theirintimate partners. The results of their political activism and lobbying weredemonstrated concretely in February 1981, when the Federal Governmentestablished the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, Welfare, andSocial Affairs to produce a comprehensive report on the nature, dimensions,and impact of wife battering in Canadian society. This report was the firstformal acknowledgement by the state of the extent of violence experienced bywomen in their own homes and committed by men with whom they were involved.Acceptance of the recommendations contained in the report, by the House of1Commons, provided the major impetus for social policy concerning the role ofthe state in the lives of women who experienced violence at the hands of theirintimate partners or ex-partners.By 1985, every province in Canada had introduced new policy initiativesto ensure greater protection for these women and to impose stronger sanctionsagainst the men who assault their partners. Eight years have passed sincethese proactive policies to protect women who have been battered wereintroduced. While the initial intent of the House of Commons report was thatthe key social policy ministries--health, education, social services andjustice--ought to develop and implement substantive policy and program changesto improve protection for women who have been battered, the most significantchanges have occurred within the criminal justice system. In British Columbia,the provincial government has recently funded a number of new support servicesand counselling programs to ensure that women going through the criminaljustice process will not be left alone to contend with the unfamiliar, and attimes overwhelmingly adversarial, legal process.However, the familial and deeply interpersonal context within which thecrime of woman-battering occurs is unlike the emotional context of randomassaults by strangers. Women who have been battered are expected to assist thestate in preparing a case against their intimate partners and may be requiredto testify against them. The increased emphasis on criminal justice remediesraises questions about the effect that this adversarial process has on womenso recently recovering from their own trauma and whether there is a need todevelop additional and alternative supports to assist these women (MacLeod,1990; Sheehy, 1987). More importantly, with an increased understanding of thegender bias inherent in criminal justice practices and procedures (Brown,21988; Dobash & Dobash, 1992; Hughes, 1992), concerns have been raised aboutthe appropriateness of criminal justice intervention in the lives of women whoseek protection from violent men (Currie, 1991; MacKinnon, 1989; MacLeod,1989; Walker, 1990). There is a need to know, from the women themselves,whether criminal justice intervention does make a difference in their lives.Social workers can play a crucial role in supporting women who have beenbattered, through the criminal justice system and in facilitating theircomfort with the process. They need to know, however, what women's experiencesare with the justice system, and to have them articulate in their own words,those factors they believe motivated or enhanced their decision toparticipate. Specific to this research and to the issues being explored, it isnoted that while there have been numerous studies undertaken and articleswritten that examine the impact of criminal justice intervention on the futurebehaviour of men who batter, as well as on the attitudes and beliefs ofprofessionals involved in carrying out a proactive criminal justice response,there appears to be little research that examines the experience of completingthe criminal justice system proceedings from the perspective of women who havebeen battered.For the past ten years I have been developing training programs forsocial service and criminal justice system personnel on the nature anddynamics of violence against women in relationships, in general, and the roleof the criminal justice system in intervening in these women's lives andprotecting them from future harm. I have had an opportunity to observe andcomment on the changes that have been introduced and I have heard a variety ofopinions from various members of the criminal justice system regarding theimpact of these changes on their role and duties. What has been lacking in my3understanding of these issues has been the voices of the women who have beendirectly affected by these changes. Without hearing from the women themselvesabout their experiences with a proactive criminal justice system response, andtheir perspectives on what was most helpful and least valuable in enablingthem to proceed, I do not believe that these policies will be able to servethe women they have been designed to protect. It is for this reason, that Ihave chosen to undertake this study.The purpose of the present exploratory-descriptive study is twofold: toexamine the experiences of women who have been battered and who have gonethrough the justice system, and to have them describe in their own words thosefactors that motivated or enhanced their decision to participate in theseproceedings. The focus will be on conceptualizing the women's understanding ofthe role of the criminal justice system in ending the violence in their lives,their perceptions of the treatment they received throughout the process, andthe support they believe they required in order to remain involved in theproceedings. These questions will be looked at from the perspective of womenwho have been battered.The second chapter of this thesis will explore the literature availableon battering and women's efforts to stop the violence. It includes an analysisof the current understanding of these issues from structural and feministperspectives. This chapter will also explore the evolution of violence againstwomen from a private matter to a public concern and, in particular, thechanging role of the state in responding to this social problem. A review oftwo current reports that have examined the extent to which gender biasinfluences the policies and procedures arising from state intervention willalso be discussed. Finally, this chapter will describe an explanatory model of4helpseeking and show how this model may be useful in examining women'sexperiences with the criminal justice system. This will lay the foundation forthe present study.The third chapter outlines the methodology used for this research andincludes a description of the sample population and the research process. Therationale for using a qualitative approach will be presented using a feministanalysis.The fourth chapter presents the results of this study: the categoriesthat emerged from the interviews and the words of these women that supportthese categories. To ensure that these women cannot be identified and thattheir privacy is protected, the women have not been identified by name.The final chapter discusses how these women's experiences with thecriminal justice system--in particular, their perceptions of what factorsenabled them to persist with the process--can be applied to both future policydevelopment and current practice intervention. Based on these conclusions, thelimitations of this study will be discussed as well as the implications forfurther research.Throughout this study the terms "battering" and "violence against women"will be used interchangeably to describe the social phenomenon explored bythis study. When the issue is being examined specifically within a legalcontext, the word "assault" will be used. It is important to note, however,that as our understanding of this issue has grown, it is no longer accurate tolimit the focus to wives. Wife assault is a gender-related crime, and womenare its victims, regardless of their legal relationship to the men who assaultthem.5Literature Review and FrameworkThe purpose of this chapter is to review the structuralist and feministliterature relevant to the research questions. It is not the intent of thepresent study to provide in-depth explanations of why wife battering happens,or to challenge the intra-psychic and gender-neutral underpinnings of thepsycho-dynamic approach. The chapter will be divided into three sections. Inthe first section, there will be a brief review of the literature on whybattering occurs, to establish the context in which to examine the evolutionof this issue from a private matter to a public concern. In the secondsection, the pertinent literature on the changing role of the criminal justicesystem in protecting women from further violence will be discussed. Particularattention will be paid to some of the current research that documents theprocess women undergo in order to end the violence in their relationships andtheir experiences with formal sources of help. In the third section, a modelof helpseeking will be outlined as the beginning of a conceptual framework inwhich to understand the factors that motivate women to proceed and the issuesthat enable them to persist with the process.Why Battering Occurs The problem of wife battering and the efforts of women to end it havereceived attention from the fields of social sciences and criminology and havebeen profiled by feminist theorists and therapists. Historically, wifebattering was viewed as a private matter and, unless the battering resulted inpermanent injury or death, problems arising in the family were to be resolved6or accepted without outside interference (Gelles, 1980). Until the 1970s,there was virtually no literature on the topic of wife battering except forthe psychiatrically oriented discussion of sado-masochistic relationships(Johnson, 1984).From a review of the early literature, Johnson (1984) describes threetheoretical models to explain wife battering: (a) the psychodynamic model,which focuses on the pathological aspects of the relationship and appliespsychological diagnoses to the woman, her partner, or their relationship(Gayford, 1975; Gillman, 1980; Pizzey & Shapiro; 1981; Shainess, 1979; Snell,1964); (b) the structural model, which examines psychosocial factors such asstress, lack of socioeconomic or personal resources (Gelles, 1972; Peterson,1980), violence in one's family of origin (Gelles, 1972; Straus, 1976; Straus,Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1979; Jaffe, 1989), and the hierarchical and sexiststructure of family life (Martin, 1973; Straus, 1976; Walker, 1979); and (c)the feminist model, which is based on the belief that violence against womenis a direct result of a patriarchal system that has perpetuated and reinforcedmale violence and kept women disempowered (Brownmiller, 1975; Dobash & Dobash,1979, 1992; MacLeod, 1980, 1987; Schecter, 1982; Bowker, 1983; Stanko, 1985;Okun, 1986; Kurz, 1992).As the issue of wife battering entered the public domain, new researchwas undertaken to explain why men batter their partners. Dobash and Dobash(1992) suggest that two predominant theoretical perspectives emerged: thefamily violence perspective evolved from structural theories of causality andthe violence against women perspective evolved from feminist theories ofcausality. For each of these perspectives, specific research approaches andmethodologies have been developed, with competing findings regarding the7gender nature of the violence and the possible solutions to end the violence.Richard Gelles, Murray Straus, and Suzanne Steinmetz have been pioneeringresearchers in the field and are the major proponents of a socio-culturalexplanation of battering that focuses on the economic, social, and culturalfactors that have an impact on family functioning and that may precipitateviolence within the family system. They believe that violent acts may becommitted by any family member and that any family member may be a victim ofviolence (Kurz, 1992). They base this understanding of violence on data theyhave collected in two nation-wide surveys (1980, 1986) on the incidence andprevalence of violence within families. Straus et al. (1980) developed theConflict Tactics Scale (CTS) to determine how husbands and wives attempt toresolve arguments and disagreements and to measure the degree of violence usedby each partner. Each couple was asked to indicate how many times they usedspecific approaches, including nonviolent approaches (discussion, argument),violent approaches (hit, kick, slap), or extreme violence (use of knife orgun). Based on data generated by this tool, they obtained the following theresults: 12.8% of the husbands used violence against their wives and 11.7% ofthe wives used violence against their husbands (Straus & Gelles, 1980). Theyconcluded that[although] traditionally men have been considered more aggressive andviolent than women, the most common situation was that in which bothused violence. (1980, p. 47)Several feminist researchers (Russell, 1982; Bowker, 1983; Bograd, 1988)have argued that this research failed to differentiate between violence thatmay have been initiated by women and violence that the women used in selfdefence. Furthermore, by not documenting the degree of injury caused by theviolence, Straus et al. failed to take into account the extent of harm and the8increasing severity of violence over time that characterizes much of theviolence against women (Bowker, 1983; Walker, 1979). Despite these criticisms,the study was repeated in 1986. The only significant change in methodology wasthat the interviews were conducted over the telephone (Bograd, 1988). Thistime they found an increase in violence on the part of wives. They concludedthatThe violence rates ... reveal an important and distressing finding aboutviolence in American families ... that in marked contrast to thebehaviour of women outside the family, women are about as violent withinthe family as men. (Straus & Gelles, 1986, p. 470)Based on their research, Straus, Gelles, and Steinmetz believe that itis the structure of society and the family unit, rather than the powerimbalance between men and women, that causes violence in intimaterelationships:A fundamental solution to the problem of wife beating has to go beyond aconcern with how to control assaulting husbands. It seems as if violenceis built into the very structure of society and the family system itself.... It [wife beating] is only one aspect of the general pattern offamily violence, which includes parent-child violence, child to childviolence and wife to husband violence. (1980, p. 44)They identify three causes of violence in contemporary family life: (a)social and economic stresses resulting from working conditions, unemployment,financial insecurity, and health problems; (b) intergenerational transmissionof violence whereby violent behaviour is passed on from one generation to thenext; and (c) power imbalances within particular families in which one partnerhas power over the other and uses that power to dominate and control.Despite their research indicating that women and men are almost equallyresponsible for instigating the violence in their relationships, Straus et al.do acknowledge that there are some differences between men and women in thenature of the violence perpetrated and the violent behaviour itself. They list9a number of factors that they believe differentiate these experiences for menand women and they concede that at least four of these factors are primarilygender-related: physical size and strength, economic and social mobility,danger to the fetus, and traditional beliefs regarding family roles (Strausand Gelles, 1986). They caution thatit would be a great mistake if the fact [that women use violence asoften as men] distracted us from giving first attention to wives asvictims as the focus of social policy. (1980, p. 43)Their policy recommendations for ending the violence reflect their perspectivethat "violence is used by the most powerful family member as a means oflegitimizing his or her dominant position" (Straus & Gelles, 1980). Theyrecommend changing the norms that glorify violence in society--and therebyencourage it in the family--through public awareness campaigns, gun controllegislation, abolition of the death penalty and corporal punishment, and thereduction of violence in the media. They also call for measures to reducesocial and economic stresses on the family--poverty, unemployment, andunderemployment. Finally, they call for a change in the sexist structure ofsociety by urging that sex role stereotyping be eliminated and thattraditional family roles be restructured (Gelles, 1988). Although theyrecognize the need for some form of state intervention to reduce the incidenceof violence, they stop short of classifying violence between husbands andwives as a criminal activity or recommending that victims seek redress throughthe justice system.Before reviewing the feminist literature on the causes of violenceagainst women, it is necessary to point out some of the limitations of thefamily violence perspective by presenting some of the current statisticsrelating to violence against women in relationships. Canadian, British, and10American studies conducted in the 1980s claimed that at least one of every tenwomen is physically abused, at some time in their lives, by a man with whomthey have had a relationship (MacLeod, 1980; Dobash & Dobash, 1979; Martin,1983). More recent Canadian statistics indicate that it is more likely thattwo of every ten women experience violence in their relationships (MacLeod,1987; Hughes, 1992). The severity of these assaults is also significant.Statistics Canada reports that 60% of documented incidents involve being hit,slapped, kicked, or knocked down and that 21% of the women required medicalattention (Lupri, 1989). At least five of every ten women who are murdered inCanada each year are murdered by men with whom they live, and if ex-partnersare included, this figure rises significantly. In 1988, a study conducted forSocial Trends revealed that 57.4% of all female homicide victims were killedby a family member, compared with 24.4% for male homicide victims. This studyalso revealed that women are more likely to be killed in their homes than onthe street.Violence against women in relationships has been acknowledged as a crimeof significant magnitude (Hughes, 1992). Family violence perspectives do notadequately explain why 90% of the victims are female and 89% of perpetratorsare men (MacLeod, 1987). While social and economic factors, violence in one'sfamily of origin, and power dynamics within the family system may be presentin families where women are beaten, these factors do not explain why this isalmost exclusively a gender-based crime, nor do they address the reality thatviolence against women can be found in families from all socioeconomic groups,whether they are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, employed or unemployed,and with all types of family histories.11Just as Straus, Gelles, and Steinmetz have been primary forces behindthe development of the family violence perspective, Dobash and Dobash havebeen leaders in the development of the violence against women perspective. In1979, they undertook one of the most intensive inquiries ever made intoviolence against women and carefully demonstrated the historical relationshipbetween wife battering and the development of social institutions andinstruments of social control. They did this to illustrate the social meaningof violence against women, its acceptability throughout society, and theinstitutional mechanisms put in place to support and maintain it. Dobash andDobash point out that violence against wives has existed for centuries and hasbeen an acceptable, and indeed, desirable aspect of the patriarchal family ina patriarchal society. They state thatViolence is used by men to chastise their wives for real or perceivedtransgressions of their authority and as attempts to maintain ahierarchical and moral order within the family and within a patriarchalsocial order. (1979, p. 301)Dobash and Dobash (1979) were among the first researchers to clearly make thelinks between the "historical-legal precedent of male supremacy and thesubordination and control of women through marriage and in society" (Johnson,1984). Throughout history, men have beaten their wives because they believedthey had exclusive property rights over them. In return for economic security,women were expected to obey their husbands' demands and accept theirauthority. Dobash and Dobash (1979) found thatit was the real or perceived challenges to man's possessions, authorityand control which most often resulted in the use of violence. (p. 438)Their research closely reflects the feminist literature that also linksbattering within the family system to the larger social context. Underlyingboth these analyses is the belief that violence against women is deeply rooted12in the unequal power relationships between men and women in our society(Barnsley, 1980; Dobash & Dobash, 1979; Martin, 1983; Schecter, 1982; Bowker,1983; Okun, 1986; Bograd, 1988). One of the most important contributions offeminist scholars to the research on violence against women has been theirability to redefine problems in ways that turn the problems from private woesto public issues. Feminist analyses of wife battering have challenged deeplyheld beliefs that events which occur in the privacy of the family are only ofconcern to family members, and that any intervention considered by the statemust take place at the behest of those individuals. More importantly, bydemonstrating that woman battering is the product of a patriarchal system,feminism has taken the issue beyond explanations that focus narrowly onpersonality or family structure, to an examination of power relations insociety. These feminist thinkers believe that those who blame violence onpathological individuals, or on dysfunctional relationships, minimize orignore the fact that violence against women is endemic to modern Westernsociety (Dobash & Dobash, 1979).In 1980, Linda MacLeod wrote a groundbreaking book on wife battering inCanada. Through interviews with shelter workers, service providers, and womenwho have been battered, MacLeod attempted to break the silence that hadpreviously surrounded this issue, to provide basic information on the natureand dynamics of wife assault, and to present a framework for understanding whyit occurs. MacLeod posited thatWife battering can only be understood by looking at the family, not as aparticular and personal group of individuals with all the emotional tiesthis image conveys, but as an institution with roles, functions andtraditional relationships with other institutions including law,medicine, employment and religion.... Wife battering and the network ofofficial procedures which helps define it is not a personal dilemma, itis an institutionalized means of control. (1980, p. 29)13The institutionalized nature of violence, its use as a mechanism of socialcontrol, and the gender basis of this violence have also been reflected in thewritings of Schecter (1982) and Bograd (1988). Schecter states thatWe must not view wife abuse as victimization but rather as an aspect ofoppression, or else we will see individual problems rather thancollective ones. (1982, p. 17)Bograd claims thatOur society is constructed along the dimensions of gender; men as aclass wield power over women. As the dominant class, men havedifferential access to important material and symbolic resources, whilewomen are devalued and inferior. Although important race and classdifferences exist among men, all men can potentially use violence as apowerful means of subordinating women. (1988, p. 14)These theorists view violence against women as a political fact. Theybelieve that all of its dimensions--when, how, why and where it is used, whomit effects, the nature of the protection provided, and, most importantly, thesanctions imposed on those who commit the violence--reflect the relative powerof men over women, the efforts by certain men to assert power continuouslyover their partners, and the ongoing efforts by their partners to reduce orescape violence (Stark, 1993). Because such violence is deeply rooted insexual inequality, regardless of the particular events that precipitate it,the ultimate consequence of the violence is the denial of women's basic rightsto safety and security. The relationship between battering as means ofpersonal control and battering as means of social control has led to whatStark describes asthe systemic fusion of social and political dominance that underminesthe physical, psychological or political autonomy of even the strongest,most aggressive and capable women. (1993, p. 657)This conceptualization of battering as a form of coercive control(Schecter & Jones, 1991) that is both personal and social moves us from afamily violence perspective, which calls for the re-calibration of power14relationships within families, to a feminist perspective, which recognizes theneed for structured intervention to restrain and impede the normativeauthority many men exercise over women. By reframing battering as a serioussocial issue requiring significant state intervention, the feminist movementpushed the issue of protecting women from violence into the public domain.More importantly, they placed the responsibility for intervention in the livesof women who have been battered onto the legitimate social control mechanismsfound in the criminal law and administered through the criminal justicesystem.The Changing Role of the Criminal Justice SystemIn examining the role of the law in general, and of the criminal law inparticular, several feminist criminologists (Pahl, 1985; Stanko, 1985; Smart,1989; Edwards, 1989; Kurz, 1992) have traced the history of substantive law inrelation to violence against women. They have noted that throughout recenthistory the substantive law related to violence against women has been deeplyburied within the matrimonial, civil, and criminal statutes. Until recently, awoman's legal status was considerably weaker if she were married than if shewere a cohabitee or a single, unmarried woman (Edwards, 1989). Married womenforfeited their right to protection from assault by their husbands and, untila decade ago, could not be compelled to give evidence against them. Case lawpromoted the belief that punishing one's wife was well within the rights ofthe husband. According to the Lawes Resolution of Women's Rights, 1632, "a manmay beat an outlaw, a traitor, a pagan, his villein or his wife." Thissentiment was reinforced in Blackstone's Commentaries of 1847: "For as to hisanswer for his misbehaviour, the law thought it reasonable to entrust him with15this power of restraining her, by domestic chastisement ...." Until the late19th century, British law explicitly allowed husbands to beat their wives aslong as they met the criteria established by the lawmakers of the day. Thephrase "rule of thumb" comes from this era, when common law determined that ahusband was able to beat his wife with a weapon as long as it was no thickerthan his thumb (Edwards, 1989).Canadian women were similarly affected. As a result of statutory changesenacted in Canada in the early 20th century, women were denied the right tobring civil suits against their husbands for damages arising from assaultscommitted by their husbands. Married women were particularly vulnerable toassaults, as criminal justice system personnel were reluctant to utilizecriminal prosecutions as a means to deter domestic violence. In BritishColumbia, the Married Women's Property Act (R.S.B.C., 1936, Chapter 167,Section 13), denied wives the right to sue their husbands in civil court fordamages resulting from their husbands' criminal behaviour and kept womendisempowered until its repeal in 1985.Edwards (1989) and Stark (1993) chronicle the early efforts of socialreformers and suffragettes to use the law to outlaw "wife torture". Theseactivists believed that violence against women was directly connected to theireconomic dependence and their lack of economic rights. They urged reform ofthe Matrimonial Act so that women would be free to leave their husbands andseek their own economic independence. Instead, the Aggravated Assault Law wasintroduced in 1853. This law stated that all assaults, including assaultsagainst wives, would be treated as crimes to be dealt with in criminal court.Edwards (1989) notes, however, that the act allowed for judges, at their owndiscretion, to divert cases from criminal court to civil court where sanctions16were much lighter. Both Stanko (1985) and Stark (1993) describe the efforts ofFrances Power Cobbe in 1870 to have husbands who beat their wives arrested andprosecuted. Cobbe believed that this was the only way to reduce women'spolitical isolation and shift the responsibility for their safety fromthemselves to society. Unlike many social reformers of her time, Cobbe wasreluctant to leave the protection of women solely in the hands of the state.She believed that, left to their own devices, the police and the state wouldonly reinforce women's oppression, rather than change it. While changes wereultimately introduced which allowed women to leave their marriages in cases ofphysical cruelty and which provided for financial support in the form ofmaintenance orders, these provisions were not regarded as rights, but asprivileges that wives had to earn. The onus was left on women to prove thatthey were the victims of ongoing violence, and their chastity and virtue wereconsidered prime factors in determining whether they deserved financialsupport and state protection. In British Columbia, this hypocritical andmoralistic attempt by male lawmakers to dominate and control women can be seenalso in the wording of the Deserted Wives and Children's Maintenance Act(R.S.B.C., 1936, Chapter 73, Section 6), which was in force from the early1920s until its repeal in the early 1970s. This statute included a clause thatdenied maintenance to deserted wives when the court was satisfied that thewoman had committed adultery that had not been condoned by her husband. Nosimilar restrictions were placed on the sexual behaviour of male spouses.Thus, the efforts of these early British feminists and social reformerswere subverted through the power of the law, and women who had been batteredremained powerless and silent, until the second wave of feminism gave birth tothe shelter movement in Britain and North America.17As knowledge about wife battering became more widespread, the obviouslack of protection offered by the legal system to women who had been battered,was one of the key areas that came under scrutiny. Between 1977 and 1983, anumber of studies (Lerman, 1981; Jaffe, 1979; Barnsley, 1980; MacLeod, 1980;Jaffe & Burris, 1983) examined the response of the criminal justice system towife battering and, in particular, the lack of legal protection available tothese women. These studies focused on two key issues: the power of thecriminal justice system to intervene in the lives of women who had beenbattered and the traditional reluctance of the system to do so. Lerman (1981)recommended a key role for the criminal justice system:By taking a firm stand that battering is a crime which will be punished,prosecutors can provide victims with an enforceable right not to bebeaten, and communicate to abusers that family violence will no longerbe tolerated as a private matter. (p. 28)In one of the first studies of the perspectives of women who had beenbattered using feminist methodology, the Vancouver Women's Research Centre(1980) interviewed 25 residents of Vancouver Transition House regarding theirways of "coping with the consequences of wife battering, including theirattempts to change their situations" (p. 23). Barnsley et al. (1980) reportedthat the women they interviewed were reluctant to call the police to intervenein violent situations for "fear of future reprisals", yet felt that they hadno other choice if they wished to protect themselves from future harm. MacLeod(1980) analyzed existing federal and provincial laws and the effectiveness ofcriminal sanctions such as peace bonds, injunctions, and ex parte injunctionorders. She concluded that "accepted legal procedures and exceptions writteninto the law to protect the unity of the family make convictions virtuallyimpossible and reinforce women's isolation, dependence and powerlessness" (p.81). In an extensive study of police files, social scientists Burris and Jaffe18(1983) discovered that victims of wife assault were treated differently fromother victims of assault and that the men who were actually charged--ratherthan being merely reprimanded--were less likely to re-offend. All of thesestudies confirmed the feminist perspective that the criminal justice systemdid not view women battering as a serious criminal matter requiring theirintervention. These studies also revealed that the attitudes of many of thosemandated by law to respond to women battering reflected current attitudes insociety at large toward women who had experienced violence, (a) that wifebattering was a private family matter and not a public criminal matter, and(b) that women who were battered must have done something to provoke theirpartners' behaviour (Jaffe, 1981; Lerman, 1977; Barnsley, 1980; MacLeod,1980).This research, along with the findings of the 1982 report on wifebattering in Canada, by the Commons Standing Committee on Health, Welfare, andSocial Affairs, led to an uneasy alliance between the feminist movement andthe criminal justice system, to reform significantly the administration ofjustice and to strengthen the roles of the police and the courts in protectingwomen from future violence.MacLeod (1980) and Currie (1990) have each examined the impact of theHouse of Commons report on the development of policy in the areas of socialservice delivery and criminal justice system response across Canada. Thereport recommended changes to address concretely the concerns raised by womenwho have been battered and the shelter movement. The most significant changesrelated to the reconceptualization of battering from a social problem to acriminal matter. By openly acknowledging the criminal nature of violenceagainst women in relationships and by shifting the burden of responsibility19for proceeding with criminal action from the women themselves to the criminaljustice system, the system was empowered to take a proactive stance in thesecases. By 1985, every province in Canada had introduced new policies tofacilitate criminal justice system intervention in the lives of women who havebeen battered. These policies were not received warmly by all concerned. Twostudies (Leighton, 1989; Jaffe, 1990) have highlighted the philosophicalopposition of many criminal justice system personnel to state involvement inthe private lives of family members and, in particular, their resistance toimplementing the provincial pro-arrest policies. An unpublished B.C. report(Tait, 1986) discussed the resentment on the part of the police to what theyperceived as the erosion of their discretionary powers to make arrests. Thereport's author believed that it was the unwillingness of senior policemanagers to enforce the spirit of the policy, and the lack of political willon the part of the government of the day to provide adequate resources tomonitor police practices, that resulted in uneven implementation of thepolicy. The lack of proper enforcement and compliance with the policy wasdescribed more forcefully in two recent B.C. reports, examining violenceagainst women (Light, 1992) and gender bias in the justice system (Hughes,1992). Both reports have documented the concerns of many service providersregarding inconsistent implementation of the policy and the confusionexperienced by women who were proceeding through the justice system. The 1984B.C. Wife Assault policy was revised in 1986 and revised substantially againin 1993. In the forward to the new "Violence Against Women in Relationships"policy (1993), the authors of this policy state that the revised and renamedpolicy is the result of a two-year consultation with women's organizations,criminal justice system personnel, and service providers. Key changes to the20policy reflect a new understanding about violence against women inrelationships, in particular the range of behaviours involved and the degreeof lethality that may result if the criminal justice system does not interveneappropriately. The 1993 policy directive places a high priority on all partsof the criminal justice system taking a proactive stance.Although the feminist movement played a pivotal role in getting thestate to recognize the serious nature of violence against women and toacknowledge the need to use existing criminal sanctions to intervene, not allfeminist theorists have supported this stance. While a fundamental principleof all feminist analyses is the belief that all inquiries into women's livesmust begin with the actual experience of women, and must incorporate thehistorical forms of social relations that determine and shape that experience(Schecter, 1982), feminist analyses and perspectives are not all alike. Thereare a range of theoretical viewpoints within the feminist movement, and thesevarying perspectives emerge from divergent critiques and analyses of the roleof class and the state in our society. Nowhere is this more evident than inthe considerable differences expressed about the value of using criminal lawand the criminal justice system to enforce and maintain women's equality.MacKinnon (1989) offers a powerful critique of the state's role inmaintaining a social system where power is distributed according to gender.She suggests that sexuality is the primary social sphere of male power and sherejects the claim of many feminists that power rests in the state. The statein MacKinnon's view is an "institutionalized agency of male control overwomen, that is over their sexuality" (p. 161). This emphasis on sexuality asthe prime determinant of women's oppression and vulnerability to violencediffers significantly from much of the literature in the field of violence21against women. MacKinnon takes issue with shelter and rape crisis centreworkers who claim that rape and battering are about power, not sex. She arguesthat this analysis demonstrates a lack of understanding of gender as a form ofsocial power and minimizes the realities of sexual violence faced by themajority of women (p. 132). She believes that the oppression of women is asexual act, that the power differential between men and women is sexualized,that it is power based on gender that is embedded in the function and theoperation of the state. For MacKinnon, the state ismale in a feminist sense, [for] the law sees and treats women the waymen see and treat women. The liberal state coercively andauthoritatively constitutes the social order in the interests of men asa gender--through its legitimating norms, forces and relation to societyand its substantive policies. (p. 162)Other feminist scholars (Stang Dahl, 1987; Smart, 1989; Lahey, 1989;Walker, 1990) have also argued against the use of the law in general, andcriminal law in particular, to respond to violence against women. Smart (1989)believes that by presenting itself as a unified and consistent body of rulesand rights, the law is allowed to maintain its own frame of reference. Inlegal discourse, the law is seen to take a stand that is neutral, protectingboth parties to an action from exploitation and abuse by the other. She arguesthat, by remaining silent on power differences or economic disparities, thelaw has not been fair, but has instead reflected the world view of those insociety it has been designed to protect--primarily upper class white males.Lahey (1989) also shares Smart's distrust of the law. She believes that thelaw's neutrality is derived from the objective standpoint of men--a point ofview that declares that conditions for men apply equally to women. Yet, unlikemen, women's sexuality and reproductive capacities have been governed by laws,their economic status has been restricted by laws and their personal safety,22until recently, has not been protected by laws. Both Lahey (1989) and Edwards(1989) argue that the law in its form, content, and applicationinstitutionalize inequalities and differential treatment. Nowhere, they argue,has this been more obvious than in the laws, or absence of laws, dealing withmale violence against female partners. This perspective was confirmed in anaddress given by the former Supreme Court Justice, Bertha Wilson in 1990.Reporting on a study that examined judicial attitudes and judicial decisionmaking, Madame Justice Wilson found that there was overwhelming evidence tosuggest thatgender-based myths, biases and stereotypes are deeply embedded in theattitudes of many judges, and in the law itself. Particularly in theareas of tort law, criminal law and family law, gender differences havebeen a significant factor in judicial decision making (1990, p. 8)While the legal system reinforces and legitimizes such liberalideological constructs as equality, justice, and the protection of individualrights, both Lahey (1989) and Smart (1989) believe that these concepts arebased on male norms. The social realities faced by most women, and theterrifying existence experienced by women who have been battered, can becomelost in the abstract, over-generalized, and objectified assumptions inherentin the justice system. They believe that this is exemplified best in thetraditional belief that state intervention through the criminal justice systemis an action on behalf of an abstract group of individuals who hold abstractrights rather than an action on behalf of a particular victim seeking justice.Their findings have been confirmed in two recent reports (Brown, 1988,1991; Hughes, 1992) that have examined gender bias in the justice system.Although written in more neutral language and presented outside of thetheoretical perspective described previously, both studies are a compellingindictment of the treatment women have received in the justice system.23In 1988, the Manitoba Association of Women and the Law began to examinegender bias in the justice system by reviewing published decisions from theManitoba Court of Queen's Bench and the Manitoba Court of Appeal in the areasof personal injury and family law. According to this study, the courts appearsto assume that the formal equality guaranteed by the Charter of Rightsand Freedoms means that women and men have, in fact, achieved social andeconomic equality. The reality is that Canadian women ... continue to bedisadvantaged in the workplace, in the home, and elsewhere, resulting inwomen usually being in a position of economic and emotional dependency,having few resources, lower status, and less flexibility. Our researchhas uncovered little, if any, recognition of this reality in a number ofcases. (p. iii)Although their first report did not address criminal law or violenceagainst women, a subsequent B.C. study (Hughes, 1992) documented "theexistence of gender bias in the justice system including substantive andprocedural law; how gender bias is manifested; and recommended reforms whichwill promote equality among men and women in the legal profession, judiciary,court services and before and under the law." The Law Society Gender BiasCommittee held a series of public meetings and consultations with a broadrange of professionals working in and around the justice system. Theyconcluded thatgender inequality is pervasive in the legal and justice systems in thisprovince. ...the vast majority of concerns raised reflect discriminationagainst women. Furthermore, while the laws for the most part are genderneutral, the application of many of these laws creates a situation ofsystemic bias against women, particularly women of low income status,aboriginal women, lesbians, women with disabilities, and women who aremembers of visible and immigrant minorities. (1992, p.1-6)Of particular relevance to the issue of violence against women, thisstudy found that, while there had been significant improvements in the justicesystem's response to violence against women, many problems remain and some newones have surfaced (p.7-12). In the area of police response, the study found24that the police response to woman battering is "inconsistent and oftenreflects a failure to understand the dynamics of battering relationships and(demonstrates) a lack of empathy for the victims" (p.7-11). It was also notedthat the police still retain broad discretion in regard to the charging policyand that the intent of the policy is seriously undermined when the police donot provide adequate protection after a call has been made (p.7-20). The studyalso commented on protective orders, in particular on the leniency with whichthese orders are enforced by police, crown counsel, and judges (p.7-22). Withrespect to crown counsel, the main concerns of the report related to the lowpriority accorded cases of woman battering, the lack of preparation time, thelack of understanding of the dynamics of battering, the lack of emphasis onpast histories of violence, and the over-emphasis on treating the woman as awitness rather than a victim (p.7-33). The report also recorded many of theconcerns that victims, service providers, and crown counsel expressed aboutthe judiciary. In its recommendations, the report highlighted the need forjudges to consider the same principles of sentencing that they consider inother criminal cases--denunciation and deterrence of crime--when they arriveat sentences in cases of violence against women. To stress the importance ofnot viewing the family nature of these assaults as mitigating factors in thesentencing process, judges were urged to consider the current literature andstatistics on violence against women, especially the ongoing harm to both thewomen and their children.This report and the B.C. Task Force Report on Family Violence (1992)made concerted efforts to examine the specific issues faced by the manydifferent women who proceed through the criminal justice system: women ofcolour, women from immigrant communities, women from aboriginal communities,25women with disabilities, and women living in same-sex relationships. Each ofthese groups faced particular barriers and obstacles to obtaining the supportthey required, as they proceeded through the system, that left them frustratedand angry. The practical issues they identified as impeding their right tofair treatment by the justice system included: not being believed, not havingaccess to the necessary assistive devices, not being provided with welltrained interpreters and translators, and not being adequately informed of thevarious procedures they would face through the process. However, the mostsignificant barrier that these women faced was the indifference of somemembers of the criminal justice system to their specific needs or concerns, anindifference the women perceived to be the result of racist and homophobicattitudes (Hughes, 1992). These attitudes left many of these women believingthat the criminal justice system was not able to protect them from futureharm, nor was it interested in guaranteeing them the same rights as otherCanadian women.It is not the intent of the present study to argue the merits of usingthe criminal justice system to intervene in the lives of women who have beenbattered, or to conduct a thorough analysis of the contents of these policies.Instead, the present study explores the experiences of women who have gonethrough the criminal justice system since the implementation of the pro-arrestpolicies and has them describe in their own words their perceptions of howthey were treated throughout the process. This study also documents thefactors these women attribute to their ability to complete the process.However, the previous studies referred to describe the context in which thesewomen have experienced the violence and provide a framework for understanding26the barriers and obstacles many women face as they move through the criminaljustice system.Women's Experiences with the Criminal Justice SystemWith regard to the present study and the issues it explores, it is notedthat, while there have been numerous studies undertaken and articles writtento examine the impact of criminal justice intervention on the future behaviourof batterers (Berk & Sherman, 1984; Saunders, 1988; Gelles, 1992; Buzawa &Buzawa, 1992; Schmidt & Sherman, 1993;) as well as to examine the attitudesand beliefs of professionals carrying out a proactive criminal justice systemresponse (Brown, 1988; MacLeod & Picard, 1989; Jaffe, 1992), the presentauthor was able to find only a few articles (Stanko, 1989; Buzawa & Buzawa,1992; Stark, 1993) and two studies (Leighton, 1989; Hughes, 1992) thataddressed specifically the experiences of women who have been battered whocomplete the criminal justice process. Two additional studies (Ferraro, 1989;MacLeod & Picard, 1989) examined police attitudes toward the charging policiesand women's assessments of the police response, by interviewing both policeand women whose partners had been charged with assault.Ferraro (1989) undertook a study to document the process of implementinga "presumptive arrest policy" in the context of ongoing police work (p. 163).She conducted a series of interviews with Arizona state police on theirperceptions of "family fights", their opinions of the new policy, and theirbeliefs regarding appropriate intervention. She also interviewed seventeenwomen who had called the police for assistance, regarding their opinions ofthe policy and their assessment of how they were treated by the police. Of thewomen interviewed, eight were dissatisfied with the police response and nine27were satisfied. Satisfied respondents described the police as "professional","very helpful", or "nice" (p. 176). However, the women interviewed clearlydifferentiated between the attitudes of the police and their actions. Even inthose cases where the women commented positively on the attitudes of thepolice toward them, more than half of them were dissatisfied with the actionstaken. In particular, most felt that the protective orders were unhelpful andnot enforced adequately. The women were not unanimous in what they wanted thepolice to do in order to stop the violence. Although most said they wouldadvise other women to call the police if they were being battered, only threefelt that arrest was the answer (p. 178). Some wanted counselling for theirhusbands, while others wanted counselling for themselves. Ferraro concludedher study by cautioning that, although it is apparent that not all women wanttheir partners to be arrested, it is important not to assume that they feelthis way because they are passive or because they are overly concerned fortheir partners. Other factors come into play, such as the woman's fear offurther violence after their partner is been released, or her belief that shewill not be treated fairly by the justice system when her case is beinginvestigated. This fear of not being treated fairly is a common sentiment ofwomen from low socio-economic backgrounds, women of colour, and women who maynot have landed immigrant status (Ferraro, 1989; Hughes, 1992).Leighton (1989) interviewed women in Metropolitan Toronto to determinetheir attitudes about their treatment in the criminal justice system and itsvarious agencies. Of the 235 women interviewed, seven of every ten felt thatthe police were sympathetic and more than half were satisfied with the way thepolice handled the situation overall. It is interesting to note that most ofthese same women reported that they had not been satisfied with the way the28police had handled previous reports of violence (p. 89). The study found thatmore than half of the women felt that it was the responsibility of the policeto charge their partners and that the justice system as a whole should beinvolved in "spousal assault" cases. The women had divergent views on thecourt process: some were satisfied with the way the court handled their case,although most felt that the sentences were too lenient. A number of the womenreported that they were confused by the process. Two women found that theviolence continued, two others found the process too slow, and another twofelt they were on trial themselves (p. 93). The women's responses to how thesystem could be improved were consistent with a proactive stance by thecriminal justice system. More than half called for a more forceful role to beperformed by the police and the courts: they wanted the police to take charge,remove the offender, and charge him with assault. They also recommended thatthe courts provide mandatory separation of the partners, provide mandatorytreatment for offenders, and impose fines or jail terms. The women also saidthat the criminal justice system needed to be more "sympathetic". They feltthat hearings should be conducted in private, procedures should be examined sothat the victims did not feel that they were on trial, and personnel should bebetter trained so that the women would feel both supported and respected (p.95). Three observations emerged from this research that are relevant to theresearch undertaken by the present author: (a) Most women are extremelyambivalent about proceeding through the criminal justice system. Although theywant immediate protection and help, they are often reluctant to support thecriminal charges laid by the police. (b) The attitudes of individual personnelare critical to the outcome of the proceedings. Where an individual displaysconcern and sensitivity to both the woman and her partner, the system is seen29to be doing its job. Conversely, where the attitudes of individual intervenorsare insensitive or patronizing, although appropriate procedures may befollowed, the system will be perceived as failing the parties involved. (c)The criminal justice system is not a true system, but a set of discrete andautonomous parts each assigned highly specific tasks. While each part has abearing on the others as the parties move through the proceedings, there is noconsistency in attitudes and outlook (1989, p. 96).These studies have made an important contribution to our understandingof women's experiences of involving the criminal justice system in their livesin an effort to stop the violence. However, the quantitative nature of theresearch limited the collection of valuable qualitative, unsolicited, and in-depth emotional responses from these women, and thus provided littleopportunity to hear from the women themselves. Also, by framing questions toassess the effectiveness of the pro-arrest policy, rather than the women'sexperiences of the policy, the studies only touch on factors that may havegreatly enhanced or impeded the women's abilities to proceed through thesystem.In 1989, the Canadian Department of Justice conducted a study todetermine the needs of women who have been battered when they come in contactwith the criminal justice system and to identify some of the problemsexperienced by service providers and criminal justice personnel when"attempting to use the criminal justice system to reduce the impacts andincidence of wife assault" (1989, p.3). The Department of Justice wanted touse the findings both to increase the sensitivity and effectiveness of thecriminal justice system and to explore nonadversarial options that could beimplemented following the laying of charges. MacLeod and Picard (1989)30interviewed 25 key informants both inside and outside of government, and 40women who had been battered and who had contact with the criminal justicesystem. They also conducted a series of focus groups with criminal justicesystem personnel, treatment providers for both men and women, serviceproviders, and private practice mediators. Of particular relevance to thepresent study is the researchers' exploration of the women's perspectives oncriminal justice intervention, more specifically of their needs andexpectations. Through their interviews they were able to document a broadrange of needs that the women identified as being critical to theirsatisfaction with the criminal justice response. These were identified as: (a)the need for protection; (b) the need for information; (c) the need forvalidation; (d) the need for financial independence; (e) the need forempowerment; and (f) the need for justice (1989, p. 28). Of all the needsidentified by this study, the one that is the most compelling and the mostdifficult to operationalize is the need for justice. The women needed tobelieve that they had access to a system that was not "solely driven by adesire to win cases" (p. 29) and that they were not being isolated orstigmatized for engaging in criminal proceedings but rather were respected andhonoured for taking a stand. Although this study offers some usefulinformation about the women's perceptions of their treatment by the criminaljustice system and their suggestions for making the system more sensitive totheir needs, the study did not differentiate between those women who hadproceeded through the system and those women who had requested that charges bedropped or whose partners had been acquitted. And even though the study wasdesigned to determine women's experiences with the criminal justice system,the actual interviews explored the women's experiences with a wide variety of31helping agencies (1989, p. 4), and their concerns and recommendations weresummarized by the researchers rather than presented in the women's own words.The researchers concluded that, in addition to criminal justice intervention,there should be a range of options for women who have been battered, includingpre- and post-charge diversion and post-charge mediation (1989, p. 29).However, it is unclear whether these recommendations came solely from thewomen, or were compiled from the opinions and perspectives of all of thoseinterviewed. While the study does pose some provocative questions regardingthe future role of the criminal justice system in the lives of women who havebeen battered, it does not significantly enhance our understanding of thesewomen's experiences with the criminal justice system.In summarizing this literature, it is evident that there has been a fairamount of theory-building and conceptualization with respect to wife batteringin general, and the importance of the criminal justice system response inparticular. There has been little research, however, that explores the actualprocess that women undergo when they decide to proceed with charges, and thepresent author was unable to find any research that documents women'sperception of the factors that enabled them to persist with and complete theproceedings.In examining women's experience of battering and their efforts to endthe violence in their lives, considerable attention has been paid to studyingthese women: trying to find characteristics that predispose them to beingvictimized (Walker, 1979; Pagelow, 1981; Kincaid, 1982; Pahl, 1985; MacLeod,1987), to determine why they stay or leave their partners (Walker, 1979;Pagelow, 1981; Pressman, 1983; Homer, 1985; Small & Greenlee, 1986), and todocument the long-term impact of the violence on their social skills and self32esteem (Walker, 1979; Dutton & Painter, 1981; Ferraro & Johnson, 1983; Gondolf& Fisher, 1988).Instead of focusing on women's concrete efforts to end the violence,much of the research has attempted to explain why women remain in batteringrelationships. Various factors have been proposed, which Frankel-Howard (1989)classified under three main headings: (a) commitment to the role of wifeand/or mother, (b) fear of the consequences of leaving, and (c) learnedhelplessness. One of the most enduring attempts to explain why women remain inthese relationships is the characterization of women who have been battered ashelpless and passive, as women who, over a period of time in a violentrelationship, lose all hope of changing their situation. The concept of"learned helplessness" was adapted by Lenore Walker (1979) to explain whywomen are unable to leave violent relationships. Walker posited that womenbecome "psychologically paralysed" in the face of ongoing, but unpredictable,incidents of verbal and physical abuse. She characterizes "learnedhelplessness" in women who have been battered as follows:Repeated battering like electrical shocks (in animal experiments)diminish the woman's motivation to respond. She becomes passive.Secondly, her cognitive ability to perceive success is changed. She doesnot believe her response will result in a favourable outcome, whether ornot it might. Next, having generalized her helplessness, the batteredwoman does not believe anything she does will alter any outcome .... Shesays, "no matter what I do, I have no influence ... I am incapable andtoo stupid to learn how to change things." (pp. 49-50)In a subsequent study, Walker acknowledged that, while many women wholive with violent partners experience learned helplessness, she was able tofind other factors that also contributed to these women's decisions to remainin their relationships, the most significant being their fear that they wereat risk of greater harm if they tried to leave the relationship:33We found sufficient evidence to conclude that battered women's terrorwas appropriate and her fears that separation would make the violenceworse were accurate. (1983, p. 47)Although the theory of learned helplessness remains a fixture in theliterature on family violence, and many shelter workers report working withwomen who exhibit all of the behaviours that have been identified with learnedhelplessness, this conceptualization of women who have been battered has manycritics (Bowker, 1983; Okun, 1986; Gondolf & Fisher, 1988; Dobash & Dobash,1992). The literature emerging from the field of violence against women hassought to challenge and reformulate the theory of learned helplessness througha series of qualitative studies (Frieze, 1979; Ferraro & Johnson, 1983; Mills,1985) conducted with women who had been battered. Frieze (1979) determinedthat, although most of the women initially blame themselves for the violence,once they are able to attribute the cause of the violence to their partnersthey begin to take an active role in first trying to change their ownbehaviour and then trying to change the behaviour of their partners (1979, p.102). When these efforts are unsuccessful, these women seek out other sourcesof help. It should not be surprising that women who absolve themselves of anyresponsibility for the violence are more likely to seek help from the policethan women who believe that they have in some way provoked the violence.For their study on how women experience violence in their relationships,Ferraro and Johnston (1983) obtained data from diverse sources: as participantobservers at a women's shelter, interviews with shelter workers, andqualitative interviews with 15 women who had been battered and who had lefttheir relationships. The authors describe a two-part process whereby the womeninitially rationalize the violence by denying that it happens, by minimizingits consequences, or by taking responsibility for its cause. Then, over a34period of time as the violence continues and, in many cases, escalates, theirperception of it changes. They acknowledge the reality of the violence andbegin to recognize that it is their partners who are responsible for theviolence. Ferraro and Johnson cite six "catalysts" that enable women toredefine the abuse. These include a change in the level of violence or in itsvisibility, a change in the relationship, severe despair, and externalinterventions that redefine the relationship (1983, p. 331). The authors foundthat once the women finally realize that they are being victimized, most ofthem actively seek help to change the situation. Subsequent studies haveexamined women's helpseeking behaviours and their reliance on informalsupports such as relatives and friends to help them leave abusiverelationships (Pagelow, 1981; Bowker, 1983; Pahl, 1985; Hoff, 1990). Thesestudies indicate that seeking help from informal support systems is the firstchoice for many women who have experienced violence. Pahl (1985) found thatthree quarters of the women she interviewed turned to formal sources of helponly after they did not receive the assistance they required from informalsources of help. Those women who sought assistance from formal sources of helpmost often sought help through the criminal justice system.The recognition that women's perceptions of the violence and of theirabilities to end it are not static, but change and evolve as the violenceprogresses, is a significant finding that challenges the belief that women whohave been battered remain passive and helpless. More importantly, it suggeststhat women are ready to seek actively an end to the violence and that, ifappropriate resources are available to them, they will mobilize to changetheir lives.35An Alternative Model of Helpseekinq In this final section of the present chapter an alternative model forunderstanding women's experience of the battering and their efforts to end theviolence in their lives will be examined. This model may have some utility inunderstanding women's motivation to involve the justice system and inidentifying specific factors that may enable them to persist with the process.A fundamental principle of this model is the belief that women who have beenbattered are not helpless victims but strong survivors. The survivorhypothesis proposed by Gondolf and Fisher (1988) posits that "women respond toabuse with helpseeking efforts that are largely unmet" (p. 11). What they needin order to sustain their efforts are appropriate resources and socialsupports so that they can become more self-sufficient and less economicallyand socially dependent on their partners. Once women know they have someoptions, they have the choice either of leaving their partners or of involvingothers in their efforts to negotiate an end to the violence in their lives.Gondolf and Fisher maintain that women seek help in direct proportion to theperceived danger to themselves and their children. They suggest that throughthe women's efforts to obtain assistance and survive the violence, they areable to surmount their fear of further violence and the loss of economic andsocial resources, and they are able to overcome their previously debilitatingfeelings of guilt or depression (1988, p. 29). Ironically, one of the studiesthese authors cite to substantiate their belief that women are survivors was a1984 study undertaken by Lenore Walker to replicate her previous research onlearned helplessness and the cycle of violence. In this follow up study,Walker found that instead of the women being "beaten into submissiveness,36their helpseeking behaviours increased as the positive reinforcements in therelationship decreased" (1984, p. 27).Gondolf and Fisher discovered that women who have been battered makecontact with a variety of helpseeking sources and that, as the abuse becomesmore severe and their partners appears beyond change, the women invoke a rangeof strategies to protect themselves. They believe that the women's diverseefforts to seek help in stopping the violence demonstrate the strength andresiliency that are primary features of survivors. To support theirhypothesis, the researchers set out to document the helpseeking behaviours of6,000 women in 50 Texas shelters--the largest study on this topic to date.The principal helpseeking variable used by Gondolf and Fisher in thisstudy was women's "previous helpseeking" (1988, p. 29), which the researchersbelieve exemplified the "diversity" of these women's helpseeking contacts.Thirteen different ways of seeking help were described, ranging from invokinglegal action to attempting suicide. These descriptions were then clusteredunder three categories: (a) personal strategies, including coping effortsrelying on the women's own resources; (b) informal help sources, includingfriends, relatives, and clergy; and (c) formal help sources, such as socialservices, women's shelters, police, or lawyers. These categories were based ona typology developed by Bowker (1983) to illustrate the sources of help thatthese women access. Eleven of the helpseeking strategies were consideredpositive. The remaining two--attempting suicide and covering up for thebatterer--were excluded from the measures. The researchers found that eachwoman engaged in an average of five different positive helpseeking strategiesbefore going to a shelter. When the researchers examined those helpseekingstrategies that involved informal and formal help sources, they found that the37women had contacted an average of three different sources of help out of nine,of which two of the three were directed toward formal sources of help such aspolice and social workers (1988, p. 29). Other data from this study confirmedthe researchers' belief that women who have been battered make ongoing and"extremely assertive efforts to stop the abuse" (p. 30). Of the women whocompleted the survey, 71% had left the relationship at least once beforecoming to the shelter; 63% had contacted a shelter or a lawyer, and 53% hadcalled the police at least once (p. 31). Following the data analysis, theresearchers constructed a "causal model of helpseeking" (p. 32) to explain thehigh level of helpseeking behaviour. They expected that the increase inhelpseeking efforts would be directly related to the increase in the severityof the abuse--that there would be a positive association between these twovariables (p. 32). This would be consistent with past research findings(Bowker, 1983; Okun, 1986) on women's helpseeking behaviours. Other factorsthat they hypothesized might also contribute to the women's helpseekingbehaviour were included, such as the woman's income, the number of childrenshe had, and the possibility that the children may have been abused. They alsoexamined the impact of the partner's anti-social behaviour, such as alcohol ordrug abuse, violence outside the home, or past history of arrests. The modelconstructed by Gondolf and Fisher confirms that women who have been battereddo in fact respond to more severe abuse with increased helpseeking (1988, p.37). More importantly, their model suggests that women increase their range ofhelpseeking efforts as their partner's anti-social behaviour intensifies.These findings substantiated Gondolf's and Fisher's hypothesis thatwomen who have been battered are survivors. They do not deny that many ofthese women experience feelings of low self esteem, guilt, blame, anxiety, or38depression, which have been categorized previously as symptoms of learnedhelplessness. But they argue that formal sources of help need to redefine thewomen's behaviours as behaviours that can be expected in the "adjustment intoactive helpseeking" (p. 21). They present three ways these behaviours could becharacterized: (a) Traumatic shock: a normal reaction to abnormal events. Manywomen who have been battered have suffered severe physical and psychologicalinjury, comparable to the injuries resulting from a serious accident. Theyneed time to heal emotionally and physically. Gondolf and Fisher suggest thatwhat these women require is not psychotherapy, but the support and the time torecover at their own pace. (b) Belief that they have failed to save therelationship: the researchers found that many women believe that by involvingother systems they are publicly acknowledging that they are unable to end theviolence and save their relationship on their own. Gondolf and Fisher arguethat it is critical that service providers distinguish between a legitimateresponse to a specific situation and an overall world view. (c) Separationanxiety: there are many obstacles that women must overcome in order to leavetheir violent relationship. Gondolf and Fisher believe that the women'sanxieties are entirely understandable given the fact that they face thepossibility of reprisals, the significant loss of economic and socialresources, and the fear of having their children taken away by child welfareauthorities.To demonstrate how this model could be used to challenge and reframetraditional constructs used to describe the behaviour of women who have beenbattered, Dobash and Dobash (1992) re-examined the pattern of "staying,leaving and returning" present in much of the psychological literature. As aresult of their research, they found that this pattern of behaviour does not39illustrate women's passivity and compliance, but rather demonstrates theirassertive efforts to "escape the violence and demonstrate to their partnerstheir disaffection" (1992, p. 231) with their violent behaviour. The womenengage in an active, dynamic, two-part process whereby they first strive tonegotiate for a non-violent relationship. If they are unsuccessful, they willoften leave their relationships to show their partners that they are seriousabout their demands for the violence to stop. They return for many reasons,not the least of which is their partners' promises to change their behaviour.Dobash and Dobash (1992) believe that even after they return, the womencontinue to try to change the situation. They persist with their own personalcoping strategies as well as use informal help sources. Some women begin toseek out formal sources of help, such as counsellors or lawyers, in an effortto change their partner's behaviour. If these subsequent efforts do not resultin substantive changes and the violence continues or begins again, they moveto the second stage in which they seek to end the relationship (1992, p. 234).Once they have reached the point where they believe their only option is toend the relationship, these women are "persistent and tenacious in theirefforts to seek help" (1992, p. 235). The women learn to navigate the servicedelivery systems and to determine which agencies and organizations will be ofassistance and which will fail to help:For most women, active pursuit of assistance is a continual aspect oftheir lives, ebbing and flowing with their experiences at the hands ofviolent men and of the institutions from which they seek assistance.(1992, p. 232)The survivor model has several implications for women seeking criminaljustice system intervention. First, it demonstrates that when women'sperceptions of the violence change, and they are able to attribute the blamefor the violence to their partners, they become engaged in a process to ensure40the protection and safety of themselves and their children. It verifies thatwomen, in particular severely abused women, make extensive efforts to seekhelp. However, their motivation to live and to survive must be assisted,supported, and facilitated. The criminal justice system has the capability ofnurturing this survivor behaviour, not only by taking on the responsibilityfor charging these men and imposing criminal sanctions, but by supportingwomen through the process. The two-stage process that Dobash and Dobashidentify also has important implications for the way that criminal justicesystem personnel view these women's decisions not to proceed with charges whentheir partners promise to change their behaviour. Historically, many policeand crown counsel have been reluctant to pursue charges because they believethat the women will reconcile with their partners and then ask that thecharges be dropped (Hughes, 1992). This belief, that many women who arebattered choose to return to their relationships rather than charge theirpartners, minimizes the active efforts the women engage in, within theconfines of the family, to seek an end to the violence. Formal sources of helpcan facilitate and strengthen these efforts by acknowledging the importancethat many of these women place on maintaining their relationships, providedthey are nonviolent relationships.This model also points out the danger of pathologizing the plight ofwomen who have been battered. The reasons that women stay in violentrelationships appear to have very little to do with individual psychologicaltraits. Their reasons for staying are much more strongly determined by theirlack of social and economic opportunities and by the reluctant support theyreceive from legal, social, and medical agencies. Both Gondolf and Fisher(1988) and Dobash and Dobash (1992) emphasize the critical role that formal41help sources have in sustaining women's helpseeking initiatives. Not only dothese systems need to respond appropriately at the time of the crisis, butthey have to provide ongoing and adequate supports over the long term.Gondolf and Fisher's model of helpseeking offers a way to conceptualizethe process that women who have been battered engage in when seeking outassistance from the criminal justice system. The changed perception of theproblem, the transfer of responsibility for the violence from themselves totheir partners, and their efforts to change the relationship on their ownbefore reaching out to informal and formal help sources, have been identifiedas the critical steps that must be taken in order for women to begin to endthe violence in their lives. For many women, involving the criminal justicesystem is the final step in their own efforts to end the violence and thefirst step in another difficult journey to live safely without violence. Theirability to persist and survive, in a system that has not been designed toempower victims or to advocate for women who have been battered, is animportant accomplishment. How do those women who proceed through the criminaljustice system access the same survivor characteristics that enable themactively to seek help in the first place? What do these women see as thecritical factors in maintaining and sustaining their motivation to proceed?What do they recommend to other women who are in similar situations?Dobash and Dobash maintain (a) that women who have been battered engagein many different helpseeking efforts to seek an end to the violence; (b) thatthey seek out formal sources of help when they no longer believe they are ableto end the violence; and (c) that there is a direct connection between thesewomen's abilities to maintain their efforts to end the violence and theirperceptions of the support and assistance they receive from the formal help42sources. When this theory is combined with Gondolf and Fisher's model ofhelpseeking, several factors emerge which may increase our understanding ofthe decision process women engage in when they proceed and persist withcriminal justice system intervention.Before exploring the findings of the present study and comparing them tothe helpseeking model outlined above, the research methodology will bedescribed.43MethodologyMethodAs the research on the experiences of women who have been battered havewith the criminal justice system is limited, and the conceptual base thatattempts to clarify the factors that enable these women to proceed and persistwith the process has not been clearly developed, the research undertaken forthe present study was qualitative. Patton (1987) states that the philosophicalroots of qualitative research emphasize the importance of "understanding themeanings of human behaviour and the social cultural context of socialinteraction" (p. 27). By collecting the subjective responses to specificphenomena, the researcher is able to link perceptions with behaviours and todevelop an empathetic understanding of the social world as experienced by thepersons under study. Qualitative methods enable the researcher to "find outwhat people's lives, experiences, and interactions mean to them in their ownwords and in their natural settings" (Patton, 1980, p. 22). Thesemethodologies are also an effective tool to determine the primary feelings,thoughts, and perceptions of consumers of human services (Lord, Hutchinson, &Schnarr, 1987).As the present study is intended to examine, from the perspective of thewomen themselves, their perceptions of their experience with the criminaljustice system, an exploratory-descriptive focus has been selected.Exploratory-descriptive research allows the women to describe theirexperiences in their own words and to articulate those factors that theybelieve enabled them to proceed and persist with the process. This focus also44allows for new or unexpected issues to emerge, giving the researcher a broaderperspective of the issue than may have been expected. Exploratory methodsexpand the basis of inquiry rather than limit it and enable researchers to gowhere their subjects lead them:The holistic approach to research design is open to gathering data onany number of aspects of the setting under study in order to puttogether a complete picture of the social dynamic of a particularsituation. (Patton, 1980, p. 40)The choice of this research design is consistent with a feministanalysis of the social sciences. Although many researchers attempt to be"value free" in their work, a feminist analysis would argue that researchtakes place in a patriarchal context and therefore reflects a world view thatcondones the domination of men over women (Bograd, 1988). As a consequence,much of our personal and scientific knowledge is based on men's experiencesand men's ways of being in the world. Women's experiences have been ignored,distorted, or assumed to be the same as men's. Using this analysis, there isno such thing as neutrality in social science, since there is no possibilityof viewing and analyzing the world independent of ideologies, values, andbeliefs (Bograd, p. 21). Fundamental to a feminist approach to research is thecommitment to articulate women's experiences from their own perspectives. Thismeans that existing assumptions, stereotypes, and categories about the personsto be studied are continually challenged.Researchers who use quantitative approaches to understand the experienceof women who have been battered may try to conceptualize the violence as aconcrete, easily identifiable phenomenon that can be simply observed,measured, and then treated. These attempts to label and categorize complexsocial processes have, historically, perpetuated stereotypes about these women45and have shaped societal responses to this problem in ways that have blamed,and further victimized, women who have experienced violence (Kurz, 1989).An exploratory approach is also consistent with a feminist perspectivein that it allows the women themselves to define the research problem from thestandpoint of their own realities, without the preconceived notions of theresearcher impeding this process. Their experiences are thus validated andtheir perceptions are viewed as valuable and important contributions to theunderstanding of a particular social phenomenon.Qualitative approaches are often criticized as not being empiricallybased or objective. Consequently their findings are often deemed to beinsignificant. Patton challenges this belief by stating that "numbers do notprotect against bias, they merely disguise it" (1980, p. 336). Many feministresearchers go further by claiming that there is a "powerful social beliefthat equates science with masculinity" (Keller, 1979). While science isperceived to require a rational and unemotional outlook in order to achieveobjectivity, nature (viewed as feminine) can shift and move with emotions andfeelings that are inherently subjective. Thus "mind and nature, knower andknown are assigned a gender and a particular gender relationship" (Keller,1979, p. 414). Knowledge and science, historically, have been the domain ofmen, while emotion and feeling have been the domain of women. Research,therefore, that appears rational and collects "hard" data is seen to be moreimportant and is more highly regarded in a society that continues to besuspicious of anything that is linked to the feminine. Harding argues thatsuch dichotomizing (objectivity and subjectivity) constitutes anideology in the strong sense of the term; in contrast to merely valueladen false beliefs that have no social power, these beliefs structurethe policies and practices of social institutions, including science.(1986, p. 136)46Stanley and Wise (1989) further challenge the concept of "objectivity"by claiming that any research methodologies, whether they are quantitative orqualitative, will reflect the individual researcher's biases, beliefs, andassumptions:all research is grounded in consciousness, because it is not possible todo research (or life) in such a way that we can separate ourselves fromexperiencing what we experience as people (and researchers) involved ina situation. (1983, p. 161)They go on to say that qualitative approaches have their own problems, that,in particular, such approaches foster the assumption that the "researcherfirst observes and investigates and then describes the setting or group ofpeople being researched" (1993, p. 11). In fact, they say, the researcher isan active presence in the process in which she constructs a viewpoint that isreflective of the conversation and is partial in its understanding.If one accepts the fact that no methodology can achieve true objectivityand that each researcher brings to the process his or her own world view,assumptions, and values, then it is critical that the researcher articulatehis or her world view, because it is an integral part of the research process.My understanding of the world and conceptualization of the researchquestion comes from a feminist perspective. This world view has influenced howthe research problem was formulated, how the methodology was chosen, how thequestions were asked, and how the interviews were conducted. My feministperspective also determined the relationships I established with the womeninterviewed and the ways in which I have selected and presented their words.The experience of researchers influences the way they construct and analyzedata. In the present study, by viewing the problem through a feminist lens,violence against women has been conceptualized as a gender-based crime thathas been used for centuries to maintain power and have control over women.47Solutions to ending the violence have been located within the socialstructures and the social institutions of society at large rather than withinindividual women. At the same time, it must be recognized that anothercritical precept of feminist thought is the understanding that the personal isalso the political. By challenging deeply held beliefs that women who havebeen battered are passive and helpless and by demonstrating the courageous andassertive steps each woman has taken to end the violence in her liferegardless of the outcome, it is hoped that we may learn more about supportingand assisting these women to achieve their goal. Only by listening to theirvoices can we learn from their experiences. Traditional research has tended toneutralize or silence women's voices (Wetzel, 1986). Qualitative approachesare able to record their voices and document their experiences.In developing a research methodology that was flexible enough to reflectaccurately the unique and diverse views of the women interviewed and at thesame time was able to contextualize battering within the social, political,and economic worlds of these women, some of the current literature of feministresearch methods (Oakley, 1981; Stanley & Wise, 1983, 1993; Bograd, 1988;Fine, 1989; & Reinhartz 1992) has been reviewed. Although there are manydivergent perspectives on what constitutes feminist qualitative research, twoprinciples were selected to guide the research for the present study. Thefirst principle, as discussed previously, relates to the importance ofpresenting the research problem from the standpoint of the women beingresearched. The second principle relates to the role of the researcher,herself, in defining the social problem under inquiry and the relationshipsshe establishes with the women being interviewed. Reinhartz (1992) suggeststhat many feminist researchers believe that in order for the researcher to48present and define the issues from the perspectives of the women interviewed,there must be rapport between herself and the women she is interviewing. Theresearcher must be sensitive to the individual needs and concerns of the womenbeing interviewed and be aware of her own role in asserting power and control.By establishing rapport, the feminist researcher is able to move beyond the"competitive and exploitative relations to bonds of mutuality and trust"(1992, p. 265). Depending on the duration and intensity of the research, a"strong connection may develop between the 'researcher' and the 'subject' overthe course of the study and last beyond it, sometimes in memory and sometimesin actuality" (1992, p. 263). At times the interaction between the researcherand the subject can move from the realm of research into the sphere ofpersonal relationships with the women involved. Reinhartz (1992) cautionshowever, that in any effort to establish rapport, the researcher must becareful not to "block out other emotions and reactions to people she isstudying (1992, p. 266). She needs to be aware of the differences betweenherself and the women she is studying and the impact these differences canhave on the research process. Class differences, conflicting philosophies andperspectives about the issues under study, and differing educational levelsmay all influence the relationship between the researcher and the subject.Reinhartz suggests that an appropriate relationship for the researcher tostrive to establish with the people she is studying should incorporate"respect, shared information and clarity of communication." (1992, p. 267).Oakley (1981), however, challenges the traditional textbook instructions toresearchers to "strike a balance between the warmth required to generaterapport and the detachment necessary to see the interviewer as an object ofsurveillance" (1981, p. 33). She asserts that the goal of feminist research49can be best achieved when the relationship between the researcher and thosebeing researched is on an equal footing and when the researcher is prepared to"invest his or her own personal identity into the relationship" (1981, p. 41).I attempted to establish an open and equitable relationship with thewomen I interviewed: I was clear about the purpose of my thesis, but I alsoinformed the women about the paid work I have done on this topic for theprovincial government and for components of the criminal justice system. Iresponded to questions about my own personal life and engaged in discussionswith the women on topics beyond the subject of this inquiry. Due to the natureof the research and the anger, pain, and loss the women expressed over thecourse of the interview, I tried to respond in a supportive manner. Despitethese efforts, I was aware that there were differences between myself and thewomen I interviewed--the most significant being that I have not experiencedthe pain and terror these women have--and that even with my best intentionsand most ethical use of these women's words, I cannot claim to representperfectly what these women have faced and how they have triumphed. I haveneither shared in these women's experiences of male violence in my intimaterelationships, nor have I had to make the same kinds of decisions they havehad to make. However, as a woman living in this society, I face the same fearsand vulnerabilities as these women did. Every day, as almost all other women,I consider who I see, where I go, and what I do, based on the same terrifyingpossibilities that became realities for these women.SamplingThe nine women interviewed for this study had all been involved with menwho were charged and were convicted of assault between October 1991 and April501993. The nine cases in this study were obtained from three sources: VancouverFamily Court, Battered Women's Support Services, and the MOSAIC FamilyViolence Intervention Program. All of these women had established contactswith key people within the criminal justice system and had received supportfrom them along the way. Four of the women were selected from the case filesof Vancouver Family Court where a specialized team has been working closelywith the courts and the community for several years; three of the women wereselected from the case files of Battered Women's Support Services; and twowomen were referred to the researcher from the MOSAIC Family Violence Program.I had initially hoped to select all of my participants from the VancouverFamily Court cases files. The senior probation officer pulled the filenumbers of all completed cases between 1991 and 1992. From this list, 15 filenumbers were randomly selected. These fifteen women were contacted byVancouver Family Court staff and asked if they would be interested inparticipating in the study. Eight women refused for reasons ranging fromsimply not wanting to talk about their experience again to fearing that theirpartner might be angry if he found out they were participating in theresearch. The remaining seven names were forwarded to me. Of these seven, onewoman was never available during the times proposed for an interview, and twoothers refused to be interviewed when contacted by the researcher--no reasonswere provided. As it had been the original intent to interview ten women, theresearcher then approached Battered Women's Support Services, a Lower Mainlandbased service and advocacy organization for assistance. This agency providedthe researcher with four names. Although all four women agreed to beinterviewed, one of them twice cancelled her appointment only hours before shewas to be interviewed--she explained that she was in great danger and had to51be "on the run". Later efforts to set up an interview with her were alsounsuccessful. The researcher also approached the staff working for the MOSAICFamily Violence Intervention Program, who work primarily with men and womenwith origins in India and Pakistan. They provided two names and both thesewomen were subsequently interviewed. Unfortunately, due to a technicalmalfunction, one of the women's interviews was not recorded and therefore notincluded in the analysis. The researcher also advertised in a local communitynewspaper for interested participants. Although two women responded, neitherfit the sampling frame established by the researcher. One had never beeninvolved with the criminal justice system and the other had been involved 18years ago.The eight women in the study ranged from 28 to 46 years of age. At thetime of the assaults for which these men were convicted, three of the womenwere in common-law relationships, four were married, and one women hadrecently ended her relationship. For five of the women there had been ahistory of both verbal and physical abuse which had culminated in the policebeing called. For two of the women, this had been the first incident where thepolice had been called, and for the remaining woman this was the firstincident of physical violence. Seven of the women were employed: three wereemployed in professional occupations, two were employed in clerical positions,and two were unskilled workers. The one woman who was currently on welfare hadbeen trained as a social worker. Five of the women were of European ancestry,two had origins in India, and one woman was Hispanic. Two of the women arestill living with their partners and in both situations their partners haveattended court mandated counselling through the Vancouver Assaultive Men'sTreatment Program.52In six of these cases the men were arrested, held over night, andreleased with conditions. In another case the man was not arrested but he wasasked by the police to leave the home. In the final case the man left the homebefore the police arrived. Four of the men who were charged pleaded guilty atthe preliminary hearing. Of the remaining four, two pleaded guilty at thetrial and two were found guilty. All of the men were convicted: two receivedjail sentences and six were placed on probation with conditions. Four of themwere required to attend counselling. Two of the women continue to live in fearof further assaults and one of these women is now part of a pilot projectjointly sponsored between the Vancouver Police Department and Battered Women'sSupport Services. This project identifies women who are considered to be atrisk of further assault by their (ex-)partners after they are released fromjail, and provides them with silent alarms. If an offender violates theprotective order by making contact with the woman, she can use the alarmsystem to notify the police. Her call is given highest priority for policeresponse.In five cases the women themselves called the police, in the sixth casethe police were called by an unknown witness, in the seventh case the policewere called by the neighbours, and in the eighth case, the police were calledby a nine-year-old child.At least three of the women reported that there had been violence intheir partner's family of origin. One of these women also reported that herfather had been violent toward her mother. This same woman also noted that shehad been in a previous relationship where her partner was violent toward her.Two women reported concerns about their sons. In one such case, the adult sonhad himself been charged with assaulting his girlfriend.53Four women suggested that there was a link between their partner'salcohol and drug use and his violence and one woman attributed her partner'sphysical abuse to his recent job loss. As the interview guide did not includequestions regarding family background, previous relationships, and possiblecauses of the violence, it is difficult to determine whether the other womenhad similar experiences or whether they viewed the causes of the violence inthe same way. However, when women perceived connections between the presentviolence and the past history of violence, these were discussed and probed.Descriptions of the Participants Participant 1 is 46 years old and describes herself as a "spiritualtherapist". She had been living with her partner for just over a year and haddecided to end the relationship because of her fear that his unprovoked angerwould turn violent. The afternoon of the assault, she had informed her partnerthat the relationship was over. He returned to the house later that eveningand he had been drinking. After she asked him to leave the house, he beat herup. Of all the women interviewed, she is the most introspective and the mostfocused on her former partner's need for healing.Participant 2 is 41 years old, a social worker and activist in socialjustice issues. She has been divorced for a number of years and has two adultchildren. She had been dating a colleague, who is also from El Salvador, forsome time but believed the relationship to be casual. She decided to end therelationship after she realized that her boyfriend was more interested in aserious relationship than she was. For three months she endured harassingphone calls, threatening letters, and constantly being followed. After hebroke into her home twice, she became fearful of what he might do next. She54was unable to obtain police protection until she was attacked with a knife andhad her life threatened.Participant 3 is 35 years old and works as a bank teller. She wasmarried for five years and is now in the midst of divorce proceedings.Throughout her relationship, she experienced both physical and verbal abuse.She left her husband several times, but returned each time after he promisedher he would go to counselling in order to change his behaviour. She spentsome time in a transition house and had sought counselling for herself. Duringcounselling, she also came to terms with her own history of sexual abuse. Thepolice were initially reluctant to recommend charges because they believed theassault to be of a minor nature. However, by persisting and involving awomen's advocacy organization, she was eventually successful in having herhusband charged.Participant 4 is 39 years old and an executive secretary. She wasmarried for nine years and is the mother of two young boys. Although she wasborn and educated in Canada, she complied with her parents' request that shemarry a man from India. Her husband was verbally abusive almost from timethey were married, however, the physical abuse did not begin until her firstpregnancy. She left the relationship several times and sought help from otherfamily members. The police were involved on several occasions, but no chargeswere laid. Finally, against the wishes of her family, she agreed to pursuecriminal charges. Concurrent with the criminal proceedings, she was involvedin a lengthy civil suit to obtain title to her family home.Participant 5 is 46 years old and a hospital worker. She has beenmarried for 27 years and is the mother of three children. She and her husbandmoved to Vancouver from Fiji right after they were married. For a number of55years, her husband's family lived with them. This was a source of tensionbetween them and the cause of many of their arguments, most of which turnedviolent. Her husband also had a history of alcohol abuse and used his drinkingas an excuse to justify his physical violence. It was only when her childrenstarted to complain about the violence that she realized that she needed helpto change his behaviour. Following one violent incident, her daughterconvinced her to call the police. Her husband was arrested, convicted andplaced on probation. He breached his probation when he assaulted her again. Hewas arrested a second time and was ordered to attend court mandatedcounselling. Her husband is back living with the family and she is hopefulthat the counselling will change his past behaviour.Participant 6 is 40 years old, of Italian ancestry and an unemployedsocial worker. She has been married for nine years and has two small children.There was conflict within the marriage right from the beginning andoccasionally her husband was physically abusive. The violence escalated afterthe birth of their first child. She has spent time at a transition house andhas sought counselling for herself. The police have been called many times,but each time she asked that the charges be withdrawn. She was the only one ofthe women interviewed who described herself as a feminist and identifiedparticular male attitudes that she encountered during her involvement with thecriminal justice system. She and her partner are living together again andshe is hopeful that the counselling will make a difference to theirrelationship.Participant 7 is 28 years old and a law office manager. She lived withher boyfriend for five years and during that time there were numerousincidents involving verbal and emotional abuse. There were only occasional56incidents of physical abuse until after her partner lost his job. She hadnever called the police, nor had she sought counselling. She had, however,made several efforts to help her partner come to terms with his unemployment.She was determined not to repeat the pattern of her mother by continuing tolive with a man who was violent toward her. She did acknowledge, however, thatthis was not her first relationship with a violent man.Participant 8 is 31 years old and a seasonal worker with a municipality.She had lived with her boyfriend for about a year and had a three-week-oldinfant at the time of the incident in question. There had been a history ofabuse in the relationship, but the physical abuse escalated following herpregnancy. The police had been involved numerous times, and her partner had acriminal record for other crimes that he had committed. After a particularlyviolent fight, her partner grabbed her child from her arms, jumped into hiscar, and drove away with the child. He was arrested shortly after, chargedand convicted. Since his release from jail, he has continued to harass her,and her efforts to obtain further protection from the police appear to beunsuccessful.Data CollectionPatton defines four main methods of data collection in qualitativeresearch: participant observation, questionnaires, telephone interviews, andface-to-face interviews (Patton, 1987). I chose face-to-face interviews usingan open-ended interview format to collect the data. This approach was selectedbecause the matter under study was a personal and painful one and a face-to-face approach would allow for the emotional needs of the women to be treatedin a sensitive manner. This format also allows the researcher to build57connections with the women being interviewed and is consistent with feministthinking, which seeks to limit the "alienation of the researcher from theresearched" (James, 1986, p. 22).When the selected women were contacted, the interview process wasexplained to them in more detail and a meeting was arranged. The first twowomen interviewed requested that they be interviewed at home. In the firstsituation, the woman's partner remained in the home. In the second situation,the woman's adult son (who had himself been charged and convicted of assault)kept coming into the living room during the interview. Following these twoexperiences, I asked each of the remaining women if their partner or otherfamily members would be at home during the interview. If they were, Isuggested that we meet either at my home or another location of their choice.If neither their partner nor other family members were at home, I gave thewomen the choice of being interviewed at their home, at my home, or at anotherlocation of their choice. Two of the women chose to be interviewed in theirhomes, three chose to be interviewed at my home, and one woman asked that Iinterview her in her office during her lunch break.To ensure accuracy of documentation, the interviews were audio-taped andthen transcribed. None of the women expressed concerns about being audio-taped, although three of the women feared that their partners might get accessto the tapes at a later date. They were reassured that the tapes would be keptin a secure place and would be destroyed once the study had been completed.After they understood the confidential nature of the research, their concernsdiminished.An open-ended interview format was chosen because it "explores peoples'views of reality and allows the researcher to generate theory" (Reinhartz,581992, p. 18). It enables the researcher to collect personal and in-depthresponses to specific questions while, at the same time, the researcher canmodify or repeat questions if it appears that the participant does notunderstand what is being asked. An open-ended format also allows participantsto digress, to provide more detailed information on personal aspects of theirlives, or to offer observations on their situations that may not have beenconsidered by the researcher. As a framework for developing the questionsthat would be asked, I began with the practical question: What do we need toknow about how women who have been battered experience the criminal justicesystem so that we can identify more effective ways to support them through theprocess? Emerging from this broad question were a number of issues related tothe women's perceptions, beliefs, and opinions about their efforts to end theviolence, about their decisions to involve the criminal justice system inending the violence, about how the various components of the criminal justicesystem treated them, and about what factors enabled them to proceed andpersist with the process, as well as facts about the precipitating event.These responses were then compared with the responses collected in theLeighton (1989) study on the opinions of women who have been batteredregarding how they were treated by the police, crown counsel, and the judge;of the support they received before and after the trial; of the emotionalimpact of the trial; and of the outcome of the trial--to ensure that the keycomponents of these women's experiences with the criminal justice systemprocess were included.The interview was divided into two parts. (See Appendix B). The firstpart was intended to elicit standard demographic and background informationsuch as the age of the woman, her occupation, her marital status, the number59of her children, and her children's ages. Included in this first part was anopen-ended question asking each woman to describe her relationship and theevents that led to intervention by the criminal justice system. Initially,these questions were not part of the interview. However, during the pretest, Ifound that the women were not able to answer the questions related to criminaljustice system intervention if they had not thoroughly discussed the eventsthat led to this intervention. The inclusion of these questions enabled theinterview to proceed more smoothly and provided greater insight into thewomen's motivation.The second part was structured around five constructs: how the womenperceived their treatment by the criminal justice system; the importance ofthe support from both informal and formal help sources; whether they felt thecriminal justice system was an appropriate option for them; whether they hadchanged as a result of the experience; and how they explained their ability toproceed and persist.The questions were originally designed on the assumption that all womenin the sample would have experienced the courtroom proceedings. As a result,several questions focused on their experience in the courtroom, in particularon their feelings about testifying against their partners and on the supportthey received during the trial. However, since four of the men pleaded guiltyat the preliminary hearing, only four of the cases went to trial. Thereforethe issue of "coping with the court process" was not a significant one forhalf of the women in the sample.The interview format was reviewed by a victim service worker and a crowncounsel working in this area, and some minor revisions were made. As a resultof two conversations with staff employed by Battered Women's Support Services,60some additional revisions were made. These questions were refined furtherfollowing the pretest, which revealed that several of the questions wereeither too technical, too structured, or lacked clarity. For example, one ofthe original questions was "What was different about this assault thatresulted in the police being called?" The women in the pretest reacted to theword "assault" and had difficulty differentiating this event from previousones. The question was revised to "Would you describe the events that led tothe police being called?" Another original question that requiredclarification was, "Before 1985, it was up to the woman to lay the charges,now it is the responsibility of the police. How do you feel about that?" Thewomen in the pretest responded with one word sentences. The question wasreworded to "How would you describe your reaction when you found out that thepolice were going to charge/not charge your partner?"Finally, although the overall format was structured to ensureconsistency among the interviews, the researcher was flexible in sequencingthe questions based on the individual woman's recollections of the events andher actual experiences with the justice system. This is consistent with thepurpose of an interview guide, which Patton (1980) describes asa basic checklist during the interview to make sure that all relevanttopics are covered. The interviewer is required to adapt both thewording and the sequence of questions to specific respondents in thecontext of the actual interview. (p. 198)The same interview format was used for each interview. However, based onthe experience of the woman being interviewed, certain questions would beeliminated from the interview. For example, a block of questions were designedto follow women through each phase of the criminal justice process. If aparticular woman's case did not go to trial, those questions that specificallyrelated to the trial process were not asked. Often, the researcher had to ask61only one or two questions for the woman to describe her complete experience.In situations where the woman's experience appeared to be different or unique,additional clarifying questions were asked. By ensuring that the specifics ofeach woman's experience were captured and documented, the richness of the datawas enhanced.Reliability and Validity There are no scientific tests to determine the validity and reliabilityof the qualitative research process. Both are dependent upon the skill andcompetence of the interviewer (Patton, 1987). Miles and Huberman have definedfour characteristics of interviewers that enhance reliability and validity:"familiarity with the phenomenon, conceptual interest, a multidisciplinaryapproach and investigative skills" (1984, p. 46). After working in the fieldfor over ten years, I believe that I have an appropriate level of competencein all four of these areas.Reliability of a measure has been defined asa measure's ability to yield consistent results each time it is applied.In other words, reliable measures do not fluctuate except because of thevariations in the variable being measured. (Monette et al., 1986)In this qualitative study concerns about reliability might be stated this way:Would the women describe their experiences differently because their actualexperiences were different or because the questions had been asked differentlyby the researcher? Reliability of the measures was enhanced by audiotaping allof the interviews and by using only one interviewer (the researcher) for allof the interviews. Using only one interviewer ensured that the interviewquestions were asked and presented in a uniform fashion. Audiotaping theinterviews, instead of taking notes, meant that the actual words of the women62were documented rather than the words that the interviewer deemed important.Reliability was maintained when the researcher decided not to include as datathe responses of the woman whose interview was not recorded. It is importantto note, however, that during the first two interviews, I was distracted bythe presence of the partner in one situation and the adult son in the other.While the woman in the first situation seemed relaxed and unaffected by herpartner's presence, I felt uncomfortable pursuing certain comments or probingtoo deeply. In the second situation, it was my impression that the son wasattempting to disrupt the interview. Each time he came into the room, the taperecorder was turned off and his mother began to engage in casual conversationwith the researcher. Not only was the flow of the interview affected, but Iwas concerned not to jeopardize the safety of the woman being interviewed,which may have affected the reliability to some extent.Validity has been defined asthe ability of an instrument to accurately measure the variable it wasdefined to measure. There must be a fairly clear and logicalrelationship between the way a variable is nominally defined and the wayit is operationalized. (Monnette, 1986, p. 96)Although the present study was qualitative, efforts were undertaken toestablish validity. For example, the researcher was mindful of key factorsthat might influence the way the women reported their experiences, such as adesire not to condemn the criminal justice system, a desire to please theresearcher or the support person who had referred the researcher to them, or afear of being judged for pursuing or not pursuing certain actions (Charles,1987). To reduce the likelihood of the women shaping or censoring theirresponses, I explained the purpose of the study, described my own work in thisarea, and briefly highlighted my reasons for being interested in the subjectunder inquiry. I also stressed the confidential nature of the interview and63made it clear that none of their responses would be reported in a way thatcould identify the woman who made them. Other efforts were also taken toincrease validity. The same interview guide was used for each interview and Imade no attempt to manipulate the research setting. Face validity of themeasure itself was established, by reviewing the questions to determinewhether there was a logical relationship between the questions and existingknowledge in the field. This was done by having the questions reviewed by avictim services worker, a crown counsel, and a victim advocate, all of whomare involved with the implementation of the pro-arrest policy.The meaning that individuals attach to their experience is also deemedto have face validity (Arkava and Lave, 1983). This is consistent with afeminist perspective, which posits that "the analytic use of feeling andexperience in an examination of the 'personal' should be the main principle onwhich feminist research is based" (Stanley & Wise, 1993; p. 174). While it isimportant that the researcher be aware of external factors that may influencean individual woman's response to specific questions, it is also essentialthat the experiences of the women who are the participants in this inquiry bevalidated and accepted.Data Analysis In the social sciences literature, the research process is oftendescribed as a two-step process whereby the researcher first recognizes oridentifies a problem to be studied and then conducts the research based on aseries of hypotheses expressing the problem or interest to be investigated(Monette et al, 1986). An alternative to this positivist model of conductingresearch is grounded theory, emergent theory, or naturalistic sociology in64which the "theory is derived from the material collected during the researchprocess rather than a specific problem or series of hypotheses directing theresearcher" (Stanley & Wise, 1979; p. 362). Analyzing data using groundedtheory methods (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) allows the researcher to generateconceptual categories and a range of properties based on the evidence found inthe raw data. The researcher does not try to fit the data into a specifictheory but examines the data carefully to determine whether the theory isrelevant to the categories and themes that emerged during the data analysisphase.The data analysis process that I used contained many of the keycomponents of grounded theory. However, given my feminist perspective and mypast experiences with developing and evaluating policy for criminal justiceintervention in the lives of women who have been battered, my personal biases,past experiences, and preconceived notions did come into play. Therefore thedata analysis process undertaken occurred within a feminist perspective thatperceives battering as a gender-related crime that reflects power imbalancesbetween men and women in our society and challenges deeply rooted beliefs thatbattering is a private family matter beyond the intervention of the state. Mywork with women who seek to end the violence in their lives, as well as myongoing contacts with service providers working with women who have beenbattered, led me to a beginning conceptualization of how women proceed andpersist with criminal justice intervention, as explained in the discussion ofthe "causal model of helpseeking". This is consistent with Strauss andCorbin's (1990) belief that an important creative aspect of grounded theory isits theoretical sensitivity (1990, p. 44). Theoretical sensitivity is theability of the researcher to "recognize what is important in the data and to65give it its meaning" (1990, p. 46). This sensitivity arises from theresearcher's personal and professional experience and appropriate use of theliterature, as well as from an ongoing connection to the data throughcollection and analysis. Therefore, rather than see the presence of abeginning framework as limiting the possibility of generating emergent themes,Strauss and Corbin (1990) encourage researchers to enhance their theoreticalsensitivity as a way of stimulating their ability to look at the phenomenainductively.Data analysis was ongoing throughout the data collection period. Afterthe first interview, the tape was transcribed and notes were made aboutemerging themes. These preliminary themes were: past history of violence,changed perception of the violence, public concern for stopping the violence,need for formalized supports, and reliance on personal strength. Although noneof the questions were changed to elicit these themes more effectively, thesethemes were watched for during subsequent interviews. If they did not emergeduring the interview, but were perceived to be possibly relevant to theindividual woman's experience, they were elicited with further questions.After all of the interviews were completed, the remaining seven weretranscribed and two were selected for coding. See Appendix C for a sampletranscript with coding. The transcripts selected for coding were from theinterviews with those women who provided the most thorough discussion of theirexperience and who had the most comprehensive experience with the justicesystem. In both of these cases, the women had proceeded through each stage ofthe criminal justice system, although in one case the woman's partner hadpleaded guilty at the trial, while in the other the partner was found guiltyby the presiding judge. The first transcript was read using line by line66analysis, which meant that all phrases--or, at times, individual words--thatwere relevant to the woman's experience of the criminal justice system wereexamined and labelled. Phrases or words that were deemed irrelevant to thestudy were circled in red. Examples of phrases that were deemed irrelevant tothe criminal justice system experience were one woman's frustration withfinding a divorce lawyer and another woman's criticism of her husband'stherapist. Although this process was tedious it was extremely productive, andprovided a framework to develop categories for subsequent analysis. The firsttranscript generated 55 concepts. Strauss and Corbin describe concepts as"conceptual labels placed on discrete happenings, events, and other instancesof phenomena" (1990, p. 61). A similar process was repeated with the secondtranscript, resulting in 43 concepts. Following the coding of these twotranscripts, a list was made of each set of concepts. When the lists werecompared there were a number of identical concepts. Those concepts that weredifferent were compared to determine whether they had similar meanings. Forexample, five concepts from the first transcript, on the left, could bematched with five concepts from the second transcript on the right.fear of increased violencechildren witnessed the violencefelt validated by police officernot going to take it any morejustice system has a rolegreater risk to selfimpact on childrenpolice listened to metook a standcan't do it aloneThese concepts were then grouped, based on similarities and differences.In some cases, certain concepts were discarded in favour of others that weremore evocative of the woman's experience and therefore more appropriate to thequalitative nature of this study. Following this procedure, the researcherattempted to develop a system of categories and properties based on the codingprocess. Strauss and Corbin (1990) define a category as a "classification of67concepts occurring when concepts are compared one against another and appearto pertain to similar phenomena" (p. 61) while a property is described as"attributes or characteristics pertaining to a particular category" (p. 61).The categorizing process went through two stages. During the firststage, concepts with similar meaning were grouped together to determinewhether there was a common thread running through them. For example, thefollowing concepts were clustered together because there appeared to be somecommonality among them: increased danger to self, escalating nature of theviolence, fear for life, risk to child, impact on children, can't continue tolive this way. Upon closer examination, the common thread that linked theseconcepts was the women's recognition that the violence in their lives was nolonger manageable and that it had ongoing and far reaching consequences. Thisbecame the category "Heightened Awareness of Risk". The second stage was toexamine the category to determine its properties. For example, the category"Heightened Awareness of Risk" was found to incorporate the properties ofperceptions, actions, and beliefs. The women's perceptions were that theyfaced an increased risk of danger to themselves and their children. Theiractions included their attempts to end the violence on their own by changingtheir behaviour or by removing the stressors, and their efforts to involveinformal sources of help. The women's beliefs were that they could no longercontrol the violence and that they had to seek out formal sources of help. Bydetermining specific properties that emerged from each category, I was able torepresent the experiences of these women as they proceeded through thecriminal justice system more clearly.68This process of categorizing of concepts, and attributing properties tothe categories, resulted in four main categories with corresponding properties(See Figure 1 below).Heightened Awareness of Risk♦ PerceptionsInteraction with theCriminal Justice System♦ Accessing Support♦ Actions♦ Beliefs ♦ Validating Feelings♦ Empowerment vs PowerlessnessFormal Helpseeking Efforts♦ Frequency of EffortsSurviving the Experience♦ Personal Resilience♦ Range of Activities ♦ Becoming Strong♦ Effectiveness of SupportFigure 1: Preliminary categories with corresponding properties After this comprehensive coding process had been carried out on thefirst two transcripts, the six remaining transcripts were reviewed. This time,instead of analyzing each phrase or individual word on a line by line basis, Iexamined the transcripts, paragraph by paragraph, (see Appendix C) looking formajor ideas to emerge that were consistent with, or contrary to, the data thathad been previously categorized. This is consistent with the second stage ofthe open coding process which Strauss and Corbin (1990) suggest be followedafter several categories and their related properties have been defined.I also listened to the audiotapes again to ensure that the preliminarycategories accurately reflected the experiences that these women described, todetermine whether additional categories emerged, and to begin to select thoseexamples which best described the categories produced. During this process, Idiscovered that one of the categories--formal helpseeking efforts--appearedrelevant only in those cases where there had been a history of violence and69the women had sought out formal sources of help in the past. This category didnot emerge with any clarity in those cases where there had been no previoushistory of physical violence or where formal sources of help had not beenpreviously involved. Consequently, the category was redefined to focus on thewomen's recognition that criminal sanctions were required to end the violence,even if they themselves did not call the police. Using this definition, theefforts of those women who had made previous efforts to seek out formalsources of help to assist them in ending the violence in their relationshipscould also be represented. This new category was called "criminalizing theviolence". This label captured the different ways that the police becameinvolved and it enabled all of the women's experiences to be included. Theproperties attributed to this category were: initial contact with police,relinquishing responsibility, and safety versus fear. Although the women'sexperiences with the police were varied, they all recognized that, once thepolice were involved and the criminal nature of the violence was established,the responsibility for ending it was no longer solely theirs. The audiotapesand transcripts were reviewed one final time to determine whether this newcategory was a more appropriate fit. The review confirmed the appropriatenessof this new category and provided more grounded evidence that supported theemergent categories (See Figure 2 below).70Heightened Awareness of Risk♦ PerceptionsInteraction with theCriminal Justice System♦ Accessing Support♦ Actions♦ Beliefs ♦ Validating Feelings♦ Empowerment vs PowerlessnessCriminalizing the Violence♦ Initial Contact with the PoliceSurviving the Experience♦ Personal Resilience♦ Relinquishing Responsibility ♦ Becoming Strong♦ Fear vs SafetyFigure 2: Final categories with corresponding properties In the final stage of data analysis, I looked for key themes that wouldlink the categories and their corresponding properties. These themes may offerfurther understanding of these women's experiences of the criminal justicesystem, and in particular the factors that enabled them to proceed and persistwith the process. Three themes emerged from this process: the violence must bestopped; the importance of a personal connection; and pride in taking a stand.In the next chapter, on findings, there will be a detailed examinationof the categories, and their properties, that emerged from the data. Specificquotations from the transcripts will be used to support or substantiate thevalidity of these categories in describing the experiences of these women.Finally, there will be a detailed explanation of the three emerging themes andhow they provide links among the categories.71FindingsThree central themes emerged from the data in this study: the violencemust be stopped, the importance of a personal connection, and pride in takinga stand. These themes were consistent regardless of the women's past historyof violence, their previous helpseeking efforts, or the number of componentsthey encountered within the criminal justice system.When women are involved with men who have been violent, or who haveshown the potential to be violent, they make numerous efforts to change theirpartner's behaviour and their own behaviour in order to reduce the risk offuture violence. At some point in the process, the women realize that they canno longer be solely responsible for seeking an end to the verbal or physicalabuse in their relationships. Their recognition that the violence must bestopped appears to be the critical factor that moves them from attempting toresolve the problem on their own, or with the informal help of friends andrelatives, to seeking out more formal sources of help.However, apart from their own commitment to stopping the violence, thewomen believed that it was the personal connection they had made with a victimadvocate, police officer, or probation officer, that enabled them to continuewith the process. The women described this personal connection in variousways, but the common thread was their perception that this person (or persons)showed empathy and/or provided assistance that exceeded their expectations.They noted a personal quality to their interaction with a particular policeofficer, probation officer, or victim advocate that transcended the ascribedprofessional roles and which made the women feel that they were being72responded to based on who they were rather than on what had happened. Thispersonal connection seemed to withstand other, less positive, experiences thewomen may have had with other service providers or criminal justice systempersonnel and was referred to throughout their interviews with the researcher.Finally, each of the women expressed pride in her ability to take astand and proceed through the criminal justice system. Even those women whocontinued to live with their partners--and in one case continues to fearfurther violence--acknowledged the need to persist with the process.As these three factors were articulated in a number of different waysthroughout the interviews, despite the fact that the nature and duration ofthe women's involvement varied significantly, they appear to incorporate manydisparate pieces of data and have therefore been labelled as themes.Four categories emerged from the data: Heightened Awareness of Risk,Criminalizing the Violence, Interaction with the Criminal Justice System, andSurviving the Experience. These four categories are linked together by thethemes. They are not discrete: they all interlock and have a significantimpact upon one another. For example, the women's heightened awareness of riskto themselves and/or their children determines the actions they undertake toend the violence. If the violence continues, they may seek out, or agree tosupport, criminal justice intervention. The involvement of the police, whethercalled by the women or by witnesses, then results in the criminalizing of theviolence, which brings the women in contact with the criminal justice system.Their experiences with the criminal justice system influence how they perceivethe process, affect their opinions about how they were supported, anddetermine whether they agree to persist with the process. Their ability tosurvive the process is influenced by their interaction with the criminal73justice system, their heightened awareness of the risk to themselves andothers, and their use of personal coping strategies.As will be established in the following discussion, all of thecategories are related to the women's awareness that the violence must bestopped, and reflect the emphasis these women have placed on establishingpersonal connections with one or more formal sources of help, and on how theirpride in taking a stand has transformed them from victims to survivors. Thesecategories will be discussed in relation to the women's perceptions of theirexperiences with the criminal justice system, to what we already know abouthow the criminal justice system responds to these women, and to how thesefactors may influence the direction for future research.Heightened Awareness of RiskPerceptions The first property of this category is the women's perception of theincreased risk that results from their partners' behaviour. All of the womenwere asked to describe the events that led to the police becoming involved.Seven of the eight women gave examples of their changed perception of theirpartner's behaviour toward them. These were described variously as a greaterintensity in the partner's anger, an increase in the severity of the violence,or an emerging danger to the child(ren). Only one of the women clearly statedthat she could not continue to be involved with someone who used violence toresolve conflicts. Two of the women described the growing intensity of theirpartners' anger:He said he just couldn't handle stress, it was constantly, I can'thandle anything and therefore his way of dealing with things was to getangry, he was angry all the time and always late for everything, it wasreally erratic, a lot of pressure on me in terms of having to take care74of the children, and I think it finally got to the worst point when myfather got ill, he was diagnosed with leukaemia and I just found outthat I was pregnant with my second child.When we first got together, he seemed like a real sweet guy--we had alot in common--then over time he became more intense, more aggressive,more demanding and then after he had become really angry, he would callme and express remorse.Three women commented on the increased severity of their partners' violentbehaviour:A lot of lies, a lot of stealing going on, a lot of mental abuse andthen later on more physical abuse toward me even when I was pregnant, hestarted pushing me around....There were a couple of times when we'd had like major fights and he hadslapped me, but he'd never really hit me before.There was physical abuse, primarily a slap here and there, not everhurting me to the point that it was visible. One day he was angry aboutsomething, he never told me what it was, I just turned around and itjust threw him off, he was calling me all kinds of names and reallyobnoxious behaviour ... and then he got in such a rage that he came outand knocked me in my mouth.Two of the women spoke of the increased risk to their child(ren):two days previously he had pushed me up against the window, pushed me upagainst the bathroom window really hard, it just shattered, he washitting walls and pushing me around and that very day I was breast-feeding my son.My daughter used to complain too. She's ten years old. At that time, shewas eight or nine years old. She used to get mad and upset, she'd sitand cry and that's what decided me to do it.The women recognized that the abuse and violence in their relationshipswere not static, were likely to intensify, and that their individual effortsto stop the violence and establish a non-conflictual environment were notworking. The women's perceptions of the increased risk to themselves and/ortheir children, and their perceptions that their own interventions were notadequate to end the violence, facilitated their move toward other sources ofhelp.75Although seven of the women perceived increased risks to themselvesand/or their children, for two of these it was only when the violence waswitnessed by others that they were able to see the actual danger they werefacing:he struck me very hard and when he did that, the children cried out, andwhen they cried out, some neighbours were alerted, some of the womenliving in a house with a balcony ... they called the police, and thenthey came down and intercepted, and actually said they were going tostay with us until the police came.he came running after me and started slugging me in the head, and I waslike shocked I couldn't believe he was doing that ... then the guy wholives downstairs from us came out of the house and then somebody musthave called the police, because they got there right away.ActionsThe second property of this category is actions taken following thewomen's heightened awareness of risk. All of the women mentioned efforts theyhad undertaken to seek an end to the conflict in their relationships. Thisproperty reflects the range of their efforts to de-escalate the situation inthe hopes of averting the physical abuse and it clearly demonstrates thehelpseeking efforts the women attempted in order to change theirrelationships. Some women saw staying silent as the most appropriate response,while other women sought counselling for themselves and their partners, andstill others tried to remove the stressors they perceived as precipitating theviolence:There wasn't a great deal of abuse initially, a lot of verbal but itseemed to get worse as time went on ... I would either be silent, nottalk back and be upset within myself but I would not (necessarily)respond back.He tended to yell a lot and stuff, but he was also a very intelligentperson and a lot of things were really good. But he didn't deal wellwith this accident. I tried all kinds of things to get him out of thisrut but he just couldn't see past it ....76The first time he was physically abusive was about a month and halfafter our marriage. I moved out right away and got a place of my own. Istarted seeing a counsellor...and then he consented to see a counsellorfor what was happening with us. And then as soon as we moved back intogether he decided not to go anymore.Although all of the women took some form of action, both to protectthemselves and to provide their partners with options to the abuse, they werenot successful in changing their partners' behaviour. Several of the women hadpreviously contacted the police, but their purpose had been to seek assistancein ending the violence, not to proceed with criminal justice intervention. Thefollowing statements reflect the reactions two of the women had in the pastabout having their partners charged.I did call the police and as soon as they came, he must have seen themcoming because he left. The police were great, they said I have enoughto press charges if you want to, there's enough visible evidence, but Isaid no I don't want to....Last time I phoned the police, I didn't like it, the kids were so upset,they said, he's changing and now you are going to charge him. I phonedthe police and told them to forget it....One woman regretted that she did not call the police earlier:I didn't call the police that time. In hindsight I wish I had becausethat is when I had scars, marks on my body and my girlfriend saw it....Although the women made several efforts to avert or reduce the abuse andviolence in the relationships, they were not anxious initially to involveformal sources of help. They saw the role of the police as restoring peace andmaintaining order rather than taking proactive steps to end the violence. Thisreflects their own beliefs about the causes of violence in their relationshipsand about their own role in contributing to it.77Beliefs The third and final property of this category refers to the beliefs thatthe women expressed about the causes of the violence and about their role incontributing to it. Three of the women believed that alcohol was the primaryproblem, two women believed that it was their partners' relationships withtheir mothers that precipitated the violence, and one woman believed that itwas her own behaviour that precipitated the violence. Although the women sawan increased risk to themselves and/or their children, it was difficult forthem to let go of the belief that they had in some way contributed to the mostrecent violent incident:The night that this happened, we'd been out drinking, we'd been out fora really nice dinner and then we ended up sitting in a lounge, and hehad a quite a bit to drink and it started with I didn't want anybodydriving.I had asked him to leave so there were a number of things that werehappening to him .... it's a series of events for him that led to areally deep feeling of humiliation and reaction so my part of it was anumber of things that had gone on .... I asked him not to come in, justgo and sleep and whatever I said really provoked a reaction on his part.We had been engaged in an argument already on the bus for about 30minutes and I, I didn't want to discuss it, and I yelled at him that Ididn't want to talk about it anymore, I had enough, and he struck mevery hard, it landed here on the base of my jaw and behind my ear andput me in the bushes.The women's reactions to the violence was strongly influenced by theirbeliefs about the causes of the violence and their role in precipitating it.In identifying reasons for the violence other than their partners' needs tohave power and control over them, they took actions that reflected theirbelief that they could either forestall or withstand the violence directedtoward them. Their reluctance to involve others in their problems despitetheir heightened awareness of risk illustrates their ambivalence about blamingtheir partners for the violence or about giving up on the relationship.78However, their beliefs about the violence were not rigid, but evolvedand changed over time. All of the women reached the point where they were nolonger prepared to accept the violence in their lives. Although four of thewomen continued to attribute some responsibility for the violence tothemselves, two of their comments illustrate how they had also reached thepoint where they were no longer willing to tolerate the violence.We used to have arguments, he pushed me or sometimes he might slap me,but I said, why should I, I've been taking all this from him and on topof that he's taking their side ... you understand what I'm saying, if Itake all this and on top of this he still treats me (this way) I'm notgoing to take it anymore....He was not willing to get help and I just thought I'm not living likethis anymore....At the point that the women realized that they were no longer willing totolerate the violence, and sought out or acquiesced in the intervention of thecriminal justice system, they moved the responsibility for ending the violenceout of the private domain of their relationships and into the public realm ofthe criminal justice system. Whether or not it was their intention in doingso, this action, in effect, criminalized the violence.Criminalizing the ViolenceThis second category includes the properties: initial contact with thepolice, relinquishing responsibility, and safety vs. fear, all of whichillustrate the issues faced by women when the violence they have experiencedmoves from a private concern to a criminal matter. They find themselves nolonger playing a key role in responding to their partners' behaviour and theirown safety is no longer solely their own concern. Others are now takingleading roles in what happens and, depending upon the quality of their initialcontacts, the women may feel supported by these actions or they may feel79reluctant to have others become involved in their efforts to end the violence.They also find themselves questioning what their future will bring: Willcriminalizing the violence mean that they will never have to face physicalinjury again or will their partners come back to seek their revenge?Initial Contact with the PoliceThe first property of this category is the woman's initial contact withthe police. As five of the women had no previous contact with the police, theyhad no preconceived notions of how they would respond to the situation. Thethree women who had previously involved the police, but had dropped charges,were reluctant to involve the police and were skeptical about whether thepolice would be of any assistance. All of the women expressed surprise at thequality of their initial contact with the police. For some of the women, theirfear, following the violence, was so great that they were entirely dependentupon police intervention and it was only later that they realized the extentof the support they received. Other women needed to vent their rage and angerat their partners and refused to take up the support offered by the police.The women had diverse reactions to their initial contact with the police:three were surprised at how sensitive the investigative officer was, one wasangry that her partner was not arrested, and four were relieved that thepolice had arrived before they were severely injured. Two women who had beenthe most frightened by the assaults articulated the most positive feelingstoward the officer(s):There was one policeman in particular ... he was really taking care ofme, I was really in shock at that point. ... once he got over takingcare of me, he told me what was going on downstairs and I really freakedout. So he stayed with me on that one for a while and talked me throughvery proficiently.80They were fine, I was crying my eyes out, they were really good, theywere fine, they insisted on taking me to the hospital....The strongest memory for both of these women was of being taken care ofand of having their emotional and physical needs attended to. They only dimlyremember being informed that the police were planning to arrest their partnersand would be recommending that charges be laid.The two women who had negative experiences with the police in the pastalso expressed surprise at the quality of the contact with the police:These police were particularly receptive, unlike some other police thathave been here, all they asked me has it happened in the past, and Isaid yes, and that was enough for them, they were very well informed,they were very receptive, they asked me what I wanted, they asked mewhat do you want and I said, get him out of here.By the time the police got here, he was gone. They said phone us in thenight when he gets back and they'll come and take him away. So I phonedtwice, my son phoned, they never came. This time when they arrived, Ihad pushed him into the corner, and I was sitting on him, so they cameand took him and he didn't like it and he was kept overnight.The positive nature of the women's first contacts with the police had asignificant impact for all of the women interviewed. While several of themestablished important relationships with victim advocates or other members ofthe criminal justice system as they proceeded through the system, six of thewomen referred to their initial contact with the police on several occasionsthroughout the interview. Even the one woman whose partner was not arrested,and who had to battle the police bureaucracy in order to have charges laid,commented positively on her initial contact:he said you might be able to love him, but you might not be able to livewith him ... He just said some kind words and then he shared a personalexperience of his, of this woman he really loved ... it meant a lot tome coming from a police officer.It is possible that these women's positive experiences of the policewere related to the severity of the violence they experienced and the injuries81they suffered. Whatever the reasons, these initial contacts were seen by thewomen as being important factors in their willingness to proceed with charges.This willingness to proceed with charges led to the next property of thiscategory, relinquishing responsibility.Relinquishing ResponsibilityThis property captures the feeling of relief that the women expressedwhen they were informed that their partners were to be arrested and that itwas likely that there were sufficient grounds to lay charges. Except for onewoman who had been held at knife point and threatened with rape and anotherwoman whose child had been kidnapped, none of the women would have chargedtheir partners on their own. The shifting of responsibility from the women tothe criminal justice system was one of the key changes that feminists foughtfor in their efforts to change the ways the criminal justice system respondedto cases of woman battering.At the time of the initial contact with the police, two of the womenwere completely unaware of what the police would do when they investigated thematter, two were unclear whether it was their responsibility--or the policeofficer's responsibility--to lay charges, and four were completely informed.From the women's reporting of what the police told them at that time, some ofthe officers were also unclear about whose responsibility it was. In responseto the probe "how were you informed about charges being laid", the women gavethe following responses:they said they would lay charges once they took my statement, they saidthey would lay the charges.he said it is up to you whether you want to charge him, I would adviseyou to charge him because if you don't he's going to come back, itsgoing to get worse....82but as I said, the matter was very different, because somebody elsecalled, and now there was no dispute, someone else witnessed me beingstruck, so all they did was inform me charges would be laid.Due to the varying accuracy in the information provided to these women,it was unclear to some of them whether their partners would be arrested andwho was responsible for proceeding with charges. The three of women who wereinformed that it was the responsibility of the police to arrest their partnerswhether the women want them arrested or not, were pleased that they did nothave to decide whether to proceed or not:If I had been given a choice, I would have acted emotionally and I thinkthe victim needs to be protected at that time ... the fact that I didn'thave to make decisions was valuable because I couldn't have at thatpoint....I didn't want to do that but I was pleased that they were going to.Because it took it out of my hands, so I didn't have to feel guiltyabout it or whatever. So I was actually quite pleased that they wentahead and did that anyway.He was pressuring me a lot to drop the charges, but because I didn't laythe charges, none of that was in my hands any longer.For five of the women, the violent incident that had resulted in chargesbeing laid also meant the end of their involvement with these men. Althoughthese men attempted to contact them and wanted them to withdraw the charges,the women felt that they were able to withstand the pressure and ignore themanipulation. Three of these women felt that the shift in responsibility fromthemselves to the system gave them the time and space they required to end therelationship. For the two women who intended to remain in their relationships,the fact that it was the police who proceeded with the charges, rather thanthemselves, gave them leverage to demand changes in their partners' behaviour.No longer were they attempting to negotiate for change on their own sincetheir partners were now aware that their behaviour was considered unacceptableby others as well. Although it was difficult for most of these women to see83their partners as "criminals", and although they continued to search forreasons to explain the violence, they did acknowledge the importance of thesystem's intervention:if that hadn't happened it probably would have dragged out a lot longerthan it did, so in an odd sort of way I was relieved. Because he hadnever done anything so serious that I could turn my back on him, so whenhe did that, it was like--that's it. Nothing you can ever say or do isgoing to make me change my mind....Safety vs. FearThe third property of this category refers to the middle ground that thewomen sought to find between their feelings of safety that their partner wasnot around to hurt them and their fears of reprisals once he was released. Thedegree of fear expressed by these women was directly related to the extent ofviolence they had experienced in their relationships. Three of the women hadapplied for protective orders in the past. These orders were not enforcedproperly and the women believed that they had been put in extremely vulnerablepositions. Based on their previous experiences, two of the women expressedconcern about the system's ability to keep them safe after their partners werereleased from jail:I found out later that he had to sign something to agree that he wouldnot be within one block or would not bother us until the court date cameup, and then I saw him and I said, Oh my god, there he is, I was scaredbecause I thought he was going to run up and beat me.Why didn't they show up when I called? He could have come back andkilled me.The other five women did feel that the system was capable of protectingthem and did not believe that their partners would attempt to escalate theviolence. Three of the women felt that their (ex-)partners had respected theirwishes to leave them alone and recognized that they (the women) were no longer84alone or vulnerable. These women linked their feelings of safety with theirpride in taking a stand and believed their new-found strength would enablethem to protect themselves in the future:I have always been so determined that I would never allow myself to bein that situation. Ever since I remember I have had that determination.So for me there was no choice.Interaction with the Criminal Justice SystemThe third category of findings is the women's Interaction with theCriminal Justice System. This category covers the women's experiences from thetime their partners were arrested to the completion of trial proceedings.There is less data in this category than expected because only five of thesewomen's cases resulted in a trial. The remaining three women were not requiredto appear as witnesses because their partners pleaded guilty either at thefirst appearance or at the preliminary hearing. However, during the periodbetween arrest and first appearance, the women faced a number of worrisomequestions: What could they expect in the way of information and support? Howwould they feel about testifying against their partners? Had they made theright decision in agreeing to allow the charges to stand? The women whosecases went to trial faced a number of more complex issues. They encountered arange of criminal justice personnel including crown counsel, victim assistanceworkers, probation officers, and judges. Some had access to advocacy services,such as These women's Support Services, while others did not. The womenexperienced delays and setbacks and were often confused by the procedures andrules they were expected to conform to. They saw themselves navigating througha system, often without adequate information, that had significant impact ontheir futures. They entered the criminal justice system with a range of85attitudes and values about its role and purpose and they left the system withdiffering perspectives on whether the system was an appropriate form ofintervention for women who had been battered. But regardless of what phase ofcriminal justice intervention the women experienced or the range ofdifficulties encountered, none of these women suggested during theirinterviews that they should have asked that the proceedings be terminated.This category had three properties: accessing support, validatingactions, and empowerment vs. powerlessness. These factors were significant tothese women and consequently facilitated their decisions to persist with theprocess and reinforced their sense of pride in taking a stand. The importanceof making personal connections emerged again in this category, as the womenidentified victim advocates and probation officers as the most helpful peopleduring this phase of their journey.Accessing Support The first property in this category is that of accessing support. Whileseven of the women interviewed felt they had received adequate or appropriatesupport from the police, they felt far less supported in their encounters withcrown counsel. Their complaints included not having an opportunity to meet thecrown counsel until the actual court day, not being adequately informed bycrown counsel of what would be expected of them in court, not feeling likethey were being taken seriously by crown counsel, and having to tell theirstory to several different crown counsel:I talked to crown counsel and I said I think I should charge him withkidnapping and he said, "You've been watching too many movies," that washis attitude, and I said, "He did take off with my son," and he thoughtit was just a big joke.86I did have a meeting with the crown counsel--the lawyer from hell. I'mglad they finally changed lawyers, I never did meet the woman, but Ispoke to her on the phone and I considered changing because she was notrespectful.The assault happened on February 28th and the preliminary hearing wasscheduled for April 6th. I never heard from crown counsel. I had to callto find out the status of the bail order and I had to call to set up anappointment for a court orientation. They [the crown] referred me tovictim assistance but forgot to send my file over.The women expressed confusion about the relationship between themselvesand crown counsel. They were under the impression that the crown counsel wastheir lawyer in this matter and that his or her role was to represent them incourt. Three of the five women said they were disappointed in the crowncounsel's performance in court, because they thought that erroneous statementsmade by the their partners were not challenged and that the impact of theviolence on their lives was not stated adequately:I felt so insecure at that time and I remember walking into CrownCounsel [office] and there was a different lady on than was therepreviously when he didn't show up and she was looking at everything, isyour name Sharon [the wrong name] she said she couldn't find my file andthen she tells me the judge is half deaf. And I said, there's no way Iam going to win this thing.By contrast, the one woman whose assault had been witnessed by her neighboursperceived her crown counsel's performance positively:During my husband's testimony, crown counsel was very good indiscounting some of his things about like a push with a foot wasn't akick, but crown counsel always managed to whittle that down ... whencrown was going to give the closing argument, the judge said he didn'tneed to hear anymore, he had made up his mind based on what thewitnesses had said.None of the women remember receiving a call from victim services orreceiving a follow-up call from the police to inform them of the post-arreststatus of their partners. Unless the women sought assistance on their own froma victim advocacy organization, they perceived themselves as forgotten by thesystem until their court date. One woman--who, of those interviewed, had87experienced the most violent assault--was not provided with any informationabout the bail hearing and conditions, and was not asked to complete a victimimpact statement. Given the seriousness of her case and the potential forfurther injury when her ex-partner was released, she felt that the police orcrown counsel should have informed her of the new alarm system program, whichis being piloted by the Vancouver Police Department and These women's SupportServices to increase protection to women after their partners have beenreleased from jail.The availability of support, from informal sources such as friends andfamily or formal sources such as These women's Support Services, was seen asessential by those women who were involved in court proceedings. Not only didthese sources of support enable the women to stick with their decision toproceed but they also enabled them prepare for court and cope with the courtproceedings:when he first didn't show up, I almost felt sorry for him. I thoughtmaybe I shouldn't have done this and then my friends were talking to meand they said he deserves everything he gets, he used you badly, he'sused your son really badly.the counsellor did it for me, just the way I could talk it over, not torehearse, but to know what was expected of me to recount and to recallit over again and again.I had a married couple that are really good friends, and another closefriend and Tracey from BWSS [These women's Support Services)--they allcame with me.Validating Feelings This second property of the category was mentioned by seven of the womeninterviewed. Those women who did not go through court proceedings, becausetheir partners pleaded guilty, felt validated by the system when they weregiven an opportunity to complete a victim impact statement describing the88impact of the violence on their lives, or when they were contacted by theprobation officer who wanted their input on the sentencing recommendations.Those women who appeared in court felt validated when they were asked fortheir input on the sentencing recommendations or when the judges spoke tosentence. Not only did all of these women believe it was important for theirpartners to hear about how the abuse and/or violence had affected them, butthey also believed that the courts, by seeking their opinions regarding themost appropriate sentence for their partners, were going beyond imposingcriminal sanctions and were actually acknowledging their own past efforts toend the violence:I was satisfied in that I said what I needed to say to let him know,this marriage is done and finished because you hit me and you weren'twilling to acknowledge that it was a problem.I made a statement to somebody about what my requests were in terms ofhis being in therapy and no drinking around me and he couldn't be intouch with me except with my permission .... that was read out in courtand he agreed to all of it.The prosecutor talked to the judge and said let him go for angermanagement and alcohol counselling and that's what the judge agreed withand let him go. I was happy because that was what I wanted, was for himto have counselling.Although the women who participated in the court proceedings appreciatedthe opportunity to have input, it was the judge's public condemnation of theviolence and recognition of their plight that had the most impact. Three ofthe women were initially doubtful that the judges would be able to see theirside of the situation and get past the statements of the defense counsel:I felt like maybe I was going to lose and I was kind of surprised whenthe judge did charge him. I was surprised with that but I was also angrybecause he lied in court and I should have been prepared for that and Ifelt like Crown Counsel should have said more.two weeks of anticipation awaiting for this trial was very stressful andthen listening to all these exaggerated statements from his lawyer was89very disheartening. But ultimately thank goodness it was Judge ^and I believe she saw through it.Once they heard the judges' decisions, the fears and anxieties they hadexperienced during the court proceedings dissipated and they, too, felt thattheir efforts had been validated:he did get my victim impact statement, he did listen to my testimony andmy recommendation that my husband have mandatory counselling and he hadan opportunity to know how I felt about things. I felt his decision wasvery fair.[The judge) said, I don't know what size she is but she seems prettysmall and for someone your size to abuse a woman, that's prettydisgusting. It made me feel good that the judge saw him for the scum heis.It was nice because this time I was given the power.... I must say thejudge worked in my favour. It was a really positive sign, I was reallyglad to see because I've been in court a few times to watch cases whereit didn't go that way.Six of the eight women were pleased with the terms of sentence. Of thetwo who were not pleased, one was upset that her partner was convicted on onlyone count, and the other woman was angry that her partner did not get a longersentence. Five of the men were released on probation with the condition thatthey attend court-mandated counselling. The women were pleased with thissentence: they did not want their partners to go to jail, but they wanted themto acknowledge that they were the primary sources of violence and thereforethey were primarily responsible for finding solutions. Although not all thewomen were convinced that the counselling programs their partners were beingrequired to attend were adequate, they felt that it was an important start:I asked the probation officer when she phoned me what kind ofcounselling is he going to? She said, alcohol abuse and physical andmental abuse. I said to her he needs more counselling than that. Heneeds everything.I feel better because it is helping. My daughter says Dad doesn't getmad so fast, he doesn't scream as much as he used to and no he's telling90me to be quiet, to cool off, not to scream and get so upset. I'mrelieved he's not screaming or behaving the way he was.Empowerment vs. Powerlessness The third property refers to the women's experience of alternatingbetween feeling powerless to have a say in the rules and procedures thatdetermine how the justice system operates and feeling empowered by thedecision to take a stand. This internal struggle can be seen as part of theirsearch for a role for themselves in determining the outcome of theintervention. It also reflects their questioning the appropriateness of havinginvolved the system. Their usual ways of dealing with their partners after anabusive or violent episode were no longer relevant. Now they had to search fornew ways to come to terms with what happened. With this comes muchquestioning: What happens next? Who will assist me in the process? Whathappens after he is released? Will he go to jail? Finally, the paradoxicalaspects of this property represent the lack of clarity these women had aboutthe role of the justice system in deterring future violence and theiruncertainty about whether they would recommend to other women in similarsituations that they proceed through the system.Few of the women had any previous experience with the justice system.Six of the eight women referred to traffic tickets as their only previousinvolvement with the police, two women had past involvement with the policerelated to their partners' past violence, and one woman had links to thecriminal justice system through her employment. In addition, seven of theeight women felt that their initial interaction with the police had beenappropriate or positive. When asked the question, "Before you became involvedin the justice system did you have any opinions of its effectiveness?" only91one woman had any previous connection to the system and any understanding ofthe roles of the various professionals or the adversarial nature of thecriminal proceedings. The remaining women based their opinions of the justicesystem on media reports, other people's experiences, or television. Theydescribed the system as being unfair, as being anti-woman, or as siding onlywith people who had money. These two women's comments capture the feelings ofseven of the eight women interviewed:I find it appalling the very light sentences that people get for thingslike rape and I would imagine there's physical abuse involved as well. Ithink the whole process of making a woman go to court, the process ofmaking it look like her fault, and putting a person through that iswrong.probably unfair, although I didn't have any concrete personalexperiences with it. I certainly knew of the injustices in the system.As described previously, most of the women did not feel that they wereadequately informed of what to expect following the laying of charges or thatthey were sufficiently prepared to be a witness. The sense of empowerment theyexperienced in finally taking a stand against the violence, when they involvedthe police, was frequently eroded by their feelings of powerlessness thatresulted from not being aware of or not understanding the next stages of theprocess. Only the three women who had sought assistance from a victim advocacygroup expressed a sense of being empowered during the process:I got so much support from BWSS that ... they gave me a strength to goforward and it helped me come to terms with what our relationship hadbeen for so long, it really made it clear to me, and that was good,there was no more glossing over, pretending or denial, it was reallyhappening, it was cathartic.we had the police into BWSS and Chris was there. It was really great. Itwas great to have those women as a support system. It was like a bigclock was ticking all this time--you have to do this, you have to dothat....92These positive feelings are contrasted with the feelings of anotherwoman who went to court on her own. The police had collected sufficientevidence to prosecute her partner's assault as an indictable offense, and shewas not required to testify, but she was terrified about facing her ex-partnerin the courtroom. Although the accused was convicted and given a jail sentenceshe felt:completely vulnerable and alone, the terror I felt was inextricablylinked to the power of the criminal justice system.Yet, despite these feelings, this woman also thought that she had been treatedwith dignity and respect and believed that the justice system was a deterrentto future violence in relationships.The contradictory feelings the women experienced were most evident intheir responses to the questions related to whether they saw the justicesystem as a deterrent and whether they would recommend the same route forother women who were in similar situations. Seven women felt that involvingthe justice system was a deterrent to future violence and felt that theirpartners had learned some important lessons from the proceedings. One womanpassionately stated that one of the most important aspects of going throughthe justice system wasto let him know that it wasn't just me, it's not just me that's tryingto give you a hard time, this is a criminal offence and its not allowed,it's not O.K. to do that to people.The one woman who did not feel the justice system was a deterrent foundherself in an extremely frightening position when her ex-partner was releasedfrom jail. Although he had been convicted and had spent three months in jail,no one in the system thought to inform her when he was released. Immediatelyfollowing his release, he began harassing her and she was informed that thepolice could not do anything unless they actually caught him in the act. This93experience tended to neutralize for her any sense that she had benefited fromproceeding through the justice system.The expected link, between believing that the justice system was aneffective way to deter further violence and recommending that other women takesimilar action, was not present in these interviews. Three of the women saidthey would recommend to other women that they just leave the relationship andtwo of the women suggested that therapy was a more appropriate option. Onlytwo of the women said they would recommend the justice system to other women,and both included reservations:I would really encourage her to do so, but only if she was physicallysafe [and] she needs to have a supportive network around her from thelegal community as well as her own community.I would tell her about BWSS first of all. If you are going to doanything, do it through BWSS.In reflecting on their experiences with the justice system, the womenwere able to identify specific persons or particular incidents that theybelieved played important roles in supporting them through the process. Theirawareness that the violence must be stopped and their ability to make strongpersonal connections with one or more persons clearly shaped and influencedtheir interactions with the justice system. Yet despite their belief that thecriminal justice system could be an effective deterrent, they were reluctantto recommend this process to other women, unless these other women had viablesupport systems.From the intensity in their voices and from the anger some of the womenexpressed regarding their treatment, in particular by crown counsel, it wasevident that these women had great difficulty achieving a balance betweenfeeling powerless and feeling empowered. The relief they felt when they wereable to relinquish responsibility for ending the violence by involving the94police appeared to be replaced by frustration and anger as they moved deeperinto the system.Surviving the Experience The final category of findings is Surviving the Experience. This refersto the personal and social resources the women accessed in order to cope withthe uncertainties that followed the laying of charges, as well as the stepsthey took to heal from the emotional fallout created by living in a violentrelationship. Part of their surviving was to learn to believe in themselvesagain and to build upon the skills they had acquired in the past to cope withtheir relationships. The other part of their surviving was for the women tolearn to speak out for what was important to them and to find out who in thesystem might help them. For two of the women, it meant rebuilding their oldrelationships on a nonviolent basis and for the remaining six women it meantlearning to live on their own. The two properties of this category arepersonal resilience and becoming strong. There was strength in the women'svoices when they talked about their own role in surviving the process. Theyclearly felt that it was their own determination that enabled them to do soand they had a strong sense of pride that they took a stand and insisted thatthe violence must be stopped.Personal ResilienceSeven of the women suggested that there were some internal qualitiesthat they possessed that enabled them to proceed and cope with the obstaclesand barriers they faced along the way. This property of personal resilienceappeared at the very beginning of the interviews through three of the women's95descriptions of why they called the police, and was reinforced when they wereasked the question: When you think about what you went through, what was mostimportant to you in enabling you to persist with the process? While all ofthe women gave a number of concrete reasons for entering the process (seeabove: Heightened Awareness of Risk) they also referred to several subjectivefactors that were related more specifically to their own sense of what theywere prepared to endure and to their feelings that they did not deserve to bevictimized. The following comment is from the woman whose partner suggestedthat she drop the charges and that they go to couple counselling:I've always, always, said that I will never put up with physical abusefrom a man, as long as I can remember. Like, Michael suggested we go forcounselling and I'm like, no, I don't want to go--you're the one withthe problem.Only one woman actually credited her own resilience and life experiencewith enabling her to cope with this difficult experience. Although the othersix women did not necessarily have the exact words to describe explicitly whatenabled them to persist, three of the women talked about internal motivationsthat enabled them to remain resolute:I don't know why, but I just know that I had to make a stand for myselfand who I was, to say no, this is not O.K.I said to myself, I don't deserve to be abused and I felt angry, heshould pay for what he did, he's gotten away with this stuff much toolong.I never felt as guilty as my husband tried to make me feel for goingthrough with the whole story, he dropped it less and less, he tried tohumiliate me, but it wasn't sticking this time, I felt really rightabout it. So the ability to go forward was really good.It is unclear from these comments whether it is accurate to separatetheir personal resilience from their heightened awareness of risk as describedin the first category. For some women, these were inextricably linked, whilefor others, their primary motivation was safety and they were not aware of96their resilience until they later reflected on the process. What is moreintriguing is that the women saw themselves as strong and capable of callingupon their internal resources in order to cope with the proceedings. Duringthe interviews, the women did not express feelings of guilt, blame, or shameabout their decision to proceed or about their roles in having their partnersconvicted. Three of the women did acknowledge that in the past they may havebeen convinced to withdraw charges and to try and resolve their problemsprivately. But this time, they emphasized, they were determined to proceed.What was even more interesting was that although all of the women recognizedat least one special person who had helped them along the way, when the womenlooked back on the process, they saw themselves as contributing significantlyto the final outcome:Overall, I know what my rights are and I know now how to seek out myrights without going through lawyers. I wouldn't allow anyone to walkover me as I did for so long and I suppose I'm not afraid ... I feelthat I've done the right thing.I've certainly learned a lot about the justice system. I'm not afraid ofcops anymore [and] I just know that I did really well in that courtroomand everybody would have picked up on that. That would have influencedthe judge and everyone there.Becoming StrongThe property of surviving the experience emerged from the final questionin the interview: If you could pick a word or phrase to describe yourselfthrough this process, what word would you select? Six of the women selectedwords such as "strong", "assertive", "independent", and "tough". One womanselected the word "martyr" and then went on to describe how there was no wayshe would ever again become involved with a man who was a "male chauvinist".Another women described herself as "vulnerable" and "mortal" and still living97in fear of her ex-partner's release. Her feelings are understandable, giventhe fact that her ex-partner has been deemed dangerous enough for the policeto supply her with a silent alarm mechanism. Yet even this woman believed thatshe had survived her experience and now wanted to work to support other womenwho were in similar situations.The final statements of these three women capture both the eloquence andthe humour the women expressed when talking about how they perceived their owntransformations from victims to survivors:Inner strength. I think I keep summarizing it in faith and I'mcomfortable with myself. I don't have any qualms about what happened. Idon't feel as though there's anything I have to feel guilty about. I canlive with myself.It has made me feel stronger, it has made me listen to myself, in anumber of ways, knowing what feels right, listening to what feels right,and acting upon it.Strong. That's pretty amazing because I've spent all my life justlistening to other people and trusting other people and just nottrusting who I am at all. I'm buying a pair of Daytons now--you know,Surrey biker boots.These properties of surviving the experience: personal resilience andbecoming strong, arise from the data and express both the coping strategieswomen brought with them to the process and the personal insights and skillsthey gained by being part of the process. Again, this category is clearlylinked to the other three. The factors that facilitated the women's entry intothe justice system: their initial contacts with the police, their interactionwith other components of the criminal justice system, and especially thesupport they received and the validation they experienced, all have an impacton their surviving their experiences. For example, if the woman did not a havea positive experience with the investigating officer or if she was unable toaccess support during the initial phases of her entry into the system, it was98likely that she would feel disempowered and invalidated by the process. Herfears about reprisals may have resulted in her request that charges bewithdrawn, consequently terminating the proceedings. Although each of the fourcategories has unique properties, they are closely linked to each other andillustrate the stages these women move through as they seek an end to theviolence in their lives.The women interviewed are at different places in the surviving process.For those women who are attempting to rebuild relationships with theirpartners, there is both caution and hope. For those women who have recentlycompleted the process, their strength is embryonic and tentative. They arestill recovering from some of the more difficult aspects of the process. Thosewomen who have had the time to reflect on their decision are confident thatthey made the right decision and optimistic about their futures. Yet none feltpositive enough about their experience to recommend it unequivocally to otherwomen. Their faith is in themselves and in their own abilities to survive andovercome the barriers and obstacles placed in their way.The final chapter will integrate the findings described in this chapterwith the understanding of these issues expressed in the current literature.The relevance of these findings to the "survivor hypothesis" will also beexamined. Finally, the implications of the findings for social work practicewomen who have been battered will be discussed.99ConclusionsThis concluding chapter consists of three parts: In the first part, thefindings of the present study will be compared to previous studies of women'sexperiences of battering and their treatment by the criminal justice system,and to the current literature on women's helpseeking efforts as described inthe "causal model of helpseeking" in the second chapter. In the second part,the implications of these findings for policy and practice will be discussed.In the third part, the limitations of the present study will be examined andquestions for future research will be explored.Integration of the Findings with the LiteratureFrieze's (1979) study of the perceptions of battered women found that,while most of the women initially blame themselves for the violence, once theystart to attribute the cause of the violence to their partners, they can beginto take an active role in first trying to change their own behaviour and thentrying to change the behaviour of their partners. Only when these efforts areunsuccessful do these women seek out other sources of help. Their changedperception of the responsibility for the violence indicates, as do thefindings in the present study, that the women's experiences of the batteringevolve over a period of time and do not remain static. Most of the women lookfirst to themselves for solutions to stop the violence and look second totheir partners or to other sources of help for solutions. Unlike Frieze'sfindings, however, when the women in the present study correctly attributed100the cause of the violence to their partners, more than half of them were stillunwilling to seek criminal justice intervention. It was only when these womenexperienced a heightened awareness of risk, and believed that their partners'behaviours extended beyond what they could control, that they were prepared toinvolve formal sources of help. Although all of the women went through theirown processes to reach a place where they could shift the responsibility forthe violence from themselves to their partners, other factors, in particularthe personal safety of themselves or their children, came into play beforethey could proceed.Ferraro and Johnson (1983) documented the stages that women go throughin experiencing the violence, and the catalysts that enable the women toredefine the violence. They identified six factors that influence thesewomen's decisions to seek help to end the violence: change in the level ofviolence, change in the relationship, severe despair, change in the visibilityof the violence, and external intervention. Again, there are similarities anddifferences between the catalysts and corresponding actions described byFerraro and Johnson and the catalysts and corresponding actions found in thepresent study. In the present study, three of the catalysts emerged asimportant factors in enabling the women to take action: change in the level ofviolence, change in the visibility of the violence, and externalinterventions. A fourth factor not mentioned in Ferraro and Johnson's studythat was very important to these women was the risk to their children. In thepresent study, the women identified both physical and emotional risks to theirchildren, as well as the risk to themselves of losing the respect of theirchildren if they continued to remain in the violent relationship.101Ferraro and Johnson (1983) and Bowker (1983) found that, once thesewomen begin to take action to end the violence, they most frequently seek outinformal sources of help before they involve formal sources of help such astherapists or police. Although the present study did not specifically documentthe range of helpseeking efforts that the women undertook before the criminaljustice system became involved, three of the women interviewed mentionedseeking assistance from family and friends: all of these three women came fromcultures that place great importance on the role of extended family members inresolving family difficulties. Two of the other women had previously soughtassistance from formal sources of help other than the police: both of thesewomen had spent time in transition houses and had attended counsellingsessions on their own. Unlike Ferraro and Johnson's findings, it was difficultto document any clearly defined stages of helpseeking undertaken by thesewomen, beginning with the least formal and intrusive sources and ending withthe most formal and institutionalized sources. Their past histories ofviolence, their perceptions of the danger and/or risks involved, as well asthe actual circumstances that resulted in police intervention, all appeared tobe more significant than the specific forms their helpseeking took or thesources of help they sought out.Leighton's (1989) study of women's experiences of their treatment by thecriminal justice system made three observations that have significantrelevance to these findings. He found that, although most of the women wantedthe protection and support afforded them by criminal justice intervention,they were often ambivalent about actually proceeding through the system. Inparticular, he found that the women were reluctant to support the criminalcharges laid by the police. Although his findings have been echoed in a number102of anecdotal reports produced by members of the criminal justice system, thepresent study does not support that conclusion. It is true that the women wereambivalent about actually becoming involved in the proceedings, but they alsowere relieved to be able to relinquish sole responsibility for ending theviolence in their relationships and to have the criminal justice system imposeformal sanctions on their partners' behaviour. Although several of the womenin this study were uncertain about whether they would have agreed to chargesbeing laid if they had been solely responsible for making the decision, theystrongly supported the decision once it had been made. Their conviction thatcriminal charges were the most appropriate form of intervention may have beenstrengthened by the presence of the second factor identified by Leighton: theattitudes of individual personnel who have contact with the women as theyproceed through the system. As in Leighton's study, all of the womeninterviewed commented on their interactions with individual members of thejustice system. In the present study, almost all of the women's initialcontacts with the police were positive and these encounters appeared toinfluence their decisions to cooperate with the process. As did the women inFerraro's (1989) study, however, these women also differentiated betweenattitudes and actions. The police did not consistently comply with the policyby arresting the batterers, even after they made it clear to the women thatthere were probable grounds to charge the men with assault. In three of theeight cases, although the officers were supportive and suggested that anassault had taken place, they implied that the actual decision to proceed withcharges was up to the women themselves and not the criminal justice system.The women's positive experiences with the police were in direct contrastto the negative experiences many of these same women reported having with103crown counsel. Leighton found that those women who encountered patronizing orinsensitive attitudes on the part of individual intervenors felt that thesystem failed to meet their needs. The women in this study did not expresssuch strong views, nor did they judge the whole process by their less thansatisfactory contacts with crown counsel. However, at best they were skepticalthat their crown counsel would present their case in an appropriate manner,and at worst they felt powerless to ensure that their experiences would beaccurately presented to the judge. Yet, unlike the women in Leighton's study,the women in the present study persisted with the proceedings and ultimatelyfelt vindicated by the outcomes. The third point raised by Leighton that isalso relevant to this study is his observation that the justice system is nota system at all, but is in fact a series of component and autonomous partseach with their own specific tasks. For those women who did not requireongoing protection following the arrest and laying of charges, thisobservation had little consequence. However, for those women who requiredongoing communication with members of the criminal justice system and neededup-to-date information on their partner's activities, this was a dangerousreality. The women's most vociferous complaints about the criminal justicesystem were related to the administration of various protective orders and totheir perception of the system's questionable commitment to maintaining theirongoing safety.The most important factor to articulate in comparing this study with thestudies conducted by Frieze (1979), Ferraro and Johnson (1983), and Leighton(1988), is the determination of these women to end the violence in theirlives, and their recognition that they needed the justice system to assistthem in ending it. Despite their frustrations and fears, they proceeded with104the charges and persisted with the process. They acknowledged that there weretimes when they wanted to withdraw from the process and that they were oftendoubtful that the system ultimately would help them. Yet even with thesedoubts, they believed that it was necessary to complete the process and totake a stand against their partners' violence. This contradicts the literaturethat describes women who have been battered as incapable of taking a stand(Walker, 1979, 1984) and also challenges the belief of many criminal justiceprofessionals, as noted by MacLeod and Picard (1989), that these women can beeasily dissuaded by their partners from pursuing charges. The fact that thesewomen did proceed and persist with the process and, more importantly, thatthey saw themselves becoming stronger as a result of their experiences, couldbe challenged by those who say these women represent a very small minority ofwomen who actually proceed with the process. Other factors, such as thevisibility of violence in two of the situations, the severity of the violencein a third situation, and the relative sophistication of the womeninterviewed, could also have contributed significantly to these women'sdecisions not to withdraw from the proceedings. While these factors areimportant to consider and will be discussed again when examining thelimitations of the study, it is equally important to stress that these women'sdetermination to end the violence, their obvious pride in taking a stand, andtheir strong will to survive the experience should not be seen asextraordinary. These qualities of resilience and personal strength have beendocumented in the lives of many victimized women, and have been seen asimportant qualities to build on when working with women who have been sexuallyassaulted (Burgess & Halmstrom, 1974) or who have experienced childhood sexualabuse (Butler, 1982; Herman, 1992).105What is particularly interesting, and is not reflected in any of theliterature reviewed, is that despite these women's beliefs that the justicesystem could serve as a deterrent to future violence, and that they hadbenefited personally from completing the process, they were uncertain whetherthey would recommend that other women proceed with charges. It is not clearwhether they felt this way because they see the decision to proceed as anintensely personal one, or because they see it as being taken out of women'shands once the police recommend that charges be laid. Do these women recognizethat each woman has to arrive at this decision in her own way and at her ownpace, and that other factors, such as her perception of the degree of risk,her past experiences with formal sources of help, and her initial contact withthe intervenors, will influence her course of action? Is their trust in thecriminal justice system based more on the quality of their own interactionswith particular persons than on a policy that enables women to relinquish, toa larger system, the responsibility for ending the violence? These questionswere neither asked, nor answered, by the present study. What is apparent fromthis present study, however, is that the women's past assumptions about thecriminal justice system, and their perceptions about the weaknesses of variouscomponents within the system, are secondary to their own beliefs about whatenabled them to proceed and to persist with the process. Almost withoutexception, these women credited their own determination to end the violence totheir warm encounters with an intervenor, and their personal resilience toovercome various obstacles put in their way. While the proactive chargingpolicy created a more conducive and empathetic environment in which thesewomen could make their decisions, and in fact enabled them to relinquish soleresponsibility for ending the violence, these women saw themselves as active106participants in the process. They were confused and uncertain about what wasexpected of them, and at times they even felt shut out of the process, butimplicit in their comments is their belief that they had to be active andvigilant participants in order for the proceedings to succeed.The present study set out to explore the decision-making process thatwomen who have been battered undergo when they decide to proceed with criminaljustice system intervention, and to document the specific factors theyidentify as enabling them to persist with the process. To provide a frameworkfor conceptualizing this process, Gondolf and Fisher's (1988) causal model ofhelpseeking was examined. The model suggests that women living in violentrelationships engage in a wide range of helpseeking efforts in order to endthe violence, that their efforts to seek help increase in direct proportion tothe severity of the violence, and that the range of activities they undertakeexpands as their partner's antisocial behaviour intensifies. Based on theresults of their research, Gondolf and Fisher found that these women aresurvivors and that their efforts to seek an end to the violence reflect thesame qualities of determination and resilience that we attribute to others whosurvive life-threatening accidents or diseases.The women in the present study reveal some of the characteristicsdescribed in Gondolf and Fisher's study. At the same time, there are someemergent data that do not necessarily fit with their model. For example, inGondolf and Fisher's study, all of the women had long histories of living inviolent relationships, had engaged in numerous personal coping strategies, andhad sought out several informal sources of help before turning to the moreformal sources. Most of the women had spent some time in a transition house ora women's shelter and had sought out various advocacy services. The women in107the present study had diverse histories of violence: for one woman, this wasthe first incident of physical abuse, while another woman had lived with theviolence for over twenty-five years. Only two of the women in the presentstudy had spent time in a transition house. Of the four women who hadpreviously involved the police, only two complained of poor treatment by thepolice in the past. These two women responded to their past treatmentdifferently: one was uncertain whether her needs for safety and ongoingprotection would ever be met, while the other became more determined than everto pressure the system to respond appropriately. Consistent with Gondolf andFisher's findings, however, the increased severity of the violence, and thewomen's perceptions of increased risk to themselves or to their children,intensified their efforts to seek help.As did the women in Gondolf and Fisher's study, these women did not seethemselves as passive or helpless. While they acknowledged the effects of theviolence on their self esteem, and openly discussed the fear they felt whenfacing the violence, they also saw themselves as taking an important stand.Again, the journey they took to reach this place is not easily documented.Their personal transformations from victims to survivors took many forms, butdid not necessarily follow the almost linear process described by Gondolf andFisher. This may be due to the fact that their research focused on womenresiding in transition houses, many of whom had not been helped when theysought assistance from the police. For three of the women in the presentstudy, it was the actual criminalizing of the violence, whether as a result oftheir own efforts or as a result of others, that put them in a position toreflect on the violence in their relationships and on the personal copingstrategies they had used to protect themselves from injury. For four of the108women, the criminalizing of the violence was the successful conclusion ofnumerous efforts to engage formal sources of help. And for one of the women,the criminalizing of the violence brought her to the realization that shefaced the likelihood of ongoing violence in her relationship if she did nottake steps to end it. Unlike Gondolf and Fisher's findings, it appears that,in the present study, the characteristics that enabled these women to take astand did not precipitate the criminalizing of the violence, but emergedinstead as a consequence of criminalizing the violence.Another criteria that Gondolf and Fisher used to substantiate their"survivor hypothesis" was whether or not the women decide to leave theirpartners and live on their own. They found that women are more likely to leavetheir partners if there are sufficient resources available to support themwith their decisions. They list three critical resources: income assistance,job opportunities, and child care. They did not find that other factors, suchas the severity of the abuse and the women's backgrounds, are as influentialin supporting the women's determination to end their relationships. The onefactor that they found to be more significant than economic independence, tothe women's decisions to maintain or end their relationships, was whethertheir partners enrolled in specialized counselling. The present study did notproduce such clear findings regarding what factors influenced these women'sdecisions to maintain or end their relationships. Five of the women wereemployed in comparatively well paid jobs, and two of these women had children.Of the remaining three women who had children, one was on welfare and theother was employed on a seasonal basis. Neither of these women have sufficientfinancial resources to support themselves and their children adequately. Onewoman is committed to maintaining her relationship, while the other woman is109adamant that she will never see her partner again. Although four of the eightmen were ordered to attend mandatory counselling, only two of the women agreedto let their partners return. These two women's decisions to maintain theirrelationships appeared to have less to do with economic factors and more to dowith social and cultural factors. In one situation, the woman was from aculture that frowned on divorce, while in the other situation, the woman feltthat her young children needed a father. In both cases, however, these womenwere hopeful that the strength that they gained from persisting with theprocess, combined with the impact on their partners of being convicted ofassault, would enable their partners to acknowledge their responsibility forthe past violence and begin to make the necessary changes for a nonviolentfuture. The remaining six women attributed their decisions to end theirrelationships to their determination not to be involved with men who wereviolent. As well, four of these women made a direct link between the selfconfidence they had gained from taking a stand against their partners'sviolent behaviour and their decisions to live on their own. Unlike the womenin the study by Gondolf and Fisher, none of the women in the present studyraised any connections between their relative financial independence and theirdecisions not to return to their partners. This may have more to do with theparticular profiles of the women who agreed to be interviewed for the presentstudy than with the economic and social realities for most women living inviolent relationships.Dobash and Dobash (1992) also explored women's helpseeking efforts. Theydescribe a two-stage process whereby the women first attempt to negotiatenonviolent relationships using their own personal coping strategies, includingleaving the relationship to demonstrate to their partners that they are110serious about the need for change. When they reach a point where they realizethat their efforts are not successful, the women proceed to the second stagewhere they actively seek help to end the relationship. During this stage theyfrequently approach formal sources of help to assist them. Unlike the findingsof Dobash and Dobash, the present study did not find that the women followed aset of such clearly delineated steps. However, if this first stage describedby Dobash and Dobash is redefined as the women's "private" efforts to end theviolence, and their second stage is redefined as the women's "public" effortsto end the violence, Dobash and Dobash's findings are relevant to the presentstudy. The same survivor characteristics of resilience and determination, thatGondolf and Fisher (1988), and Dobash and Dobash (1992), documented in thewomen's private efforts to end the violence, were revealed in the presentstudy's examination of the women's public efforts to end the violence. Thus,once the violence was criminalized and became public, the women had first toacknowledge that their own efforts needed to be reinforced, and second to callupon their internal resources to see them through the process. Initially thewomen credited other factors with enabling them to proceed, in particulartheir initial contacts with the police, but when they had an opportunity toreflect upon the process, they also saw their own significant contributions tothe outcomes. However, it is important to note that, although the womenpersonalized their experiences, several of them commented on society'schanging perception of women who have been battered, and on how those changesmay have influenced the attitudes of people within the criminal justicesystem. This was particularly true for the two women who had sought assistancein the past. While all of the women focused on micro issues that made adifference to them and that facilitated their decision to persist, they were111also affected by macro issues, such as society's recognition that violenceagainst women is a social problem and not a private matter, and theimplementation of policies that prescribe a proactive role for the criminaljustice system in protecting women from harm.Both Gondolf and Fisher (1988) and Dobash and Dobash (1992) stress theimportance of appropriate responses, by formal sources of help, to thesewomen's efforts to end the violence. They describe the women's variousattempts to obtain help, and their many frustrations with the systems ofintervention. They believe that the women increase their efforts in directproportion to the frequent frustrations they experience with the services theyseek out. However, in the present study, seven of the eight women describetheir initial encounters as being positive, and also comment on the importanceof other supports, such as victim advocacy services, in ensuring that theirneeds were met. Only one of the women found herself having to increase herefforts in order to obtain the response she wanted. Yet even though thesewomen had positive experiences and were not frustrated in their efforts toobtain support, they still demonstrated the survivor characteristics ofdetermination and resilience. What this finding suggests is that the qualityof the surviving experiences, as perceived by these women, is directlyinfluenced by their personal interactions with key intervenors and theavailability of support along the way. Yet their actual efforts to overcomethe obstacles they encounter, as they move through the proceedings, may, infact, happen whether they receive the required support or not. Although it isclear from the present study that the women's initial contacts with keyintervenors were critical to their decisions to proceed, it is not clear how112important the availability of ongoing support was to ensuring that theypersisted with the process.The helpseeking model provides an important framework for understandingwhat factors motivate women to proceed and persist with criminal justiceintervention. By reframing their experience of the battering, and documentingtheir many and diverse efforts to end the violence, this model focuses on thestrengths and inner resources each of the women bring to their experience. Thefindings of the present study show that the range of helpseeking efforts andsurvivor characteristics identified in past studies were also present in thesewomen as they moved through the criminal justice system. These findingsindicate that the helpseeking model is useful in understanding and describingthe efforts of these women to end the violence, even after they relinquishsole responsibility for ending the violence to formal sources of help. Whatthe helpseeking model does not address, which this present study was able todocument only in a preliminary fashion, is what other factors need to be inplace before these women can access their own survivor characteristics, andhow these characteristics can be nurtured and reinforced by service providersand criminal justice personnel. The implications for policy and practice, willbe addressed in the next section of this chapter.Implications for Policy and Practice Hoff (1990) states that long-held beliefs regarding women who have beenbattered and their roles in stopping the violence have formed a "powerfulfoundation for both victim blaming and self blame" (p. 229). These beliefshave shaped the attitudes of service providers toward these women and haveinfluenced the preferred forms of intervention. Terms such as "battered113woman's syndrome" and "learned helplessness" have been used to pathologize theviolence and to shift explanations of the causes of this violence from socialand economic concerns to individual difficulties. Hoff believes that much ofthe feminist research on women who have been battered has challenged thesebeliefs by documenting that:battered women are knowledgable, capable people who have developeddiverse strategies for coping within the violent relationships, as wellas when they leave it. Their ability to cope with life threateningcrises in spite of self blame and intimidation from others that theywere somehow responsible for their plight, reveals them more assurvivors than as helpless victims. (1990, p. 228).Yet, despite this research, she argues that many health and human serviceprofessionals fail to see or ignore the efforts the women make to end theviolence in their lives. By their attitudes and actions, many have colludedwith the traditional view that violence in intimate relationships is a privatematter to be resolved by the family members themselves. She asserts that, ifthe public were aware of strong survivor characteristics found in these women,there would be a profound change in how society views women who have been inviolent relationships. If the research that confirms the presence of thesepositive characteristics were known and accepted by professionals, it wouldhave important implications for both human services practice and public policydevelopment. She presents a powerful argument for ensuring that human serviceproviders and criminal justice professionals locate the solutions to theviolence within social and economic contexts and join publicly with the womenin their efforts to end the violence. While the ultimate goal, according toHoff, ought to be the eradication of violence through the achievement ofsocial and economic equality and the elimination of sexism, a more immediatelyachievable goal must be the development of policies and practices that are114sensitive to the needs of women who have been battered and that are designedto nurture and strengthen the women's coping skills.Since 1985, the major focus of social policy in the area of violenceagainst women in relationships has been on the role of the criminal justicesystem in responding to these cases. The evolution of this issue from privatematter to public concern has been described in detail in the second chapter ofthe present study. Although all professions have been called upon to examinetheir role in protecting and supporting women who have been battered, shelterworkers and police officers have been identified as having pivotal roles inensuring these women's safety. While the women's movement has played animportant role in defining battering and in explaining its impact andconsequences on the lives of these women, it has been the shelter workers whohave transformed this theoretical understanding of violence into their dailypractice. Their work has focused on the need to de-personalize and de-pathologize the battering, and to locate its causes clearly within a socio-cultural context. Shelter workers have developed practical tools to providewomen with the information and skills they need to navigate through thevarious systems of intervention. They have committed themselves to a model ofempowerment for working with the women and they are critical of any approachthat judges or devalues the actions taken by these women. Yet MacLeod (1987)estimates that only about 10% of women who are battered seek help fromtransition houses or other front-line services, and that most women seek moretraditional forms of help such as doctors, clergy, private counsellors, orsocial workers (p. 63). It is thus essential that social workers understandthe nature and dynamics of violence against women, and can provide these womenwith substantial support, whether the women are trying to save their intimate115relationships or to end them. However, because the present study focuses onthe women's experiences of criminal justice intervention, and because only oneof the women interviewed had any specific contact with a social worker, themajor focus of this section will be on criminal justice policy and practice,and only incidentally on social work policy and practice.MacLeod and Picard (1989), in their analysis of what women who have beenbattered need from criminal justice system, identify six needs: forprotection, validation, information, financial support, empowerment, andjustice. With the exception of financial support, the present study confirmedthat these factors are critical to supporting women who have lived in violentrelationships through a painful and difficult process. The present study alsosuggests that these women need to be approached not as stereotypes but asindividual women who are at different stages in a process. Although this mayappear to contradict the existing pro-arrest policy, whereby the police arecalled upon to arrest whenever there are lawful reasons to do so, it in factsupports the underlying tenets of that policy, that violence against women isa crime and that the state has an obligation to protect women from futureviolence and to impose criminal sanctions on the offender. The present studysuggests that a combination of factors facilitates the women's progressthrough the criminal justice system: their changed perception of the violence,their awareness that the violence must be stopped, and a strong personalconnection with individual members of the criminal justice system. If thewomen are not yet ready to relinquish responsibility for ending the violence,or if they do not feel that they are respected or supported by members of thecriminal justice system, they may decide not to persist with the process.Criminal justice system personnel need to understand that the women must reach116a point where they are able to recognize for themselves that they have doneall they can to end the violence and that their only solution is tocriminalize it. Otherwise, these personnel will continue to be frustrated whenwomen resist the laying of charges, refuse to cooperate with investigations,or reconcile with their partners before the completion of the proceedings.Until the women agree that criminal justice system intervention is the mostappropriate option for them, or until they believe that the system can providethem with greater ongoing safety than they can attain through nonintervention,many women will continue to seek police protection to stop the immediateviolence but will not support the laying of charges. For women to make keydecisions in their lives, they need to be informed and involved at all stagesof the proceedings, once the responsibility for ending the violence moves fromtheir private realm to the public domain. The findings of the present studysuggest that the women want a role in these proceedings even when they arerelieved of the burden of ensuring their own and their children's safety.There were differences among the eight women interviewed, about how much theywanted to interact with key criminal justice system personnel and how muchthey wanted to be involved in the proceedings, but each of them wanted somerole in the process and each believed she had an important contribution tomake. At the moment that they relinquish sole responsibility for ending theviolence and turn it over to the criminal justice system, there is anopportunity for the women and the system to form a partnership to end theviolence. The findings of the present study suggest that the women wanted theopportunity to form such partnerships, and that such partnerships would havestrengthened their feelings that criminal justice intervention was anappropriate option for them.117The Ministry of Attorney General's Policy on Violence Against Women inRelationships (V.A.W.I.R.) has been described as one of the most progressiveand comprehensive policy directives ever issued in the area of violenceagainst women (Ratel, personal communication, March 29, 1993). Communityinvolvement, for revisions to the draft policy, was actively solicited andwomen's organizations and criminal justice personnel were consulted at eachstage of the process. The policy locates violence against women within asocio-cultural context and clearly states that the violence is a result of amisuse of power. The behaviours described as cause for investigation rangefrom the threat of violence to actual assaults. The police are required toinvestigate all reports. The policy also clearly states that, while women inintimate relationships are the primary victims of violence, men or women insame-sex relationships, women who are elderly, young women who are dating, andvulnerable men in heterosexual relationships are also covered by the policy.The policy calls upon members of the criminal justice system to be sensitiveto the special needs of women from different cultures and communities whenthese women are required to involve the system in their private lives. Thepolicy urges the police to be particularly sensitive to the cultural dynamicsfaced by immigrant and visible minority women. Police officers who do notcomply with the spirit of the policy by arresting the suspect must documenttheir reasons for not doing so and must have their decisions approved by theirsupervisors. Finally, the policy calls upon the police to work closely withall other components of the criminal justice system to ensure that the womenare kept informed of the status of their partner, at bail hearings, at firstappearances, and upon release into the community.118Although the policy provides a thoughtful and sensitive approach tocriminal justice intervention, it presents the experience of women who havelived with violence as a homogenous one, which does not reflect the realitythat many women are at different stages in the process and that they may notyet be ready to proceed. The policy does not envision partnerships between thewomen and the system, in which the women are given the opportunity to makeinformed choices about their involvement and are briefed adequately about whatthey can expect as they move through the process. The sense of relief that allof the women in the present study felt when they could sole relinquishresponsibility for ending the violence was quickly replaced by a sense ofpowerlessness for some when they felt that the system was moving ahead withoutinforming them or involving them in key decisions.While the policy clearly specifies the role of the attending policeofficer in investigating these cases, and even prescribes a role for policesupervisors in ensuring that the policy is lawfully complied with, the policyis almost silent on the importance of a comparable role for crown counsel. Thepresent study found that, although all but one of the women felt that theywere appropriately treated by the police, the five women who went to court hadserious concerns about their treatment by the crown counsel. While the policystates that the police "must" do such-and-such, it only suggests that thecrown counsel "should". From the perspective of the women who proceed throughthe system, and from that of the police who have had their discretion removed,this is a serious shortcoming that needs to be addressed.Another finding of the present study that has implications for policy isrelated to the availability of court-mandated treatment for the men who havebeen convicted of assault. The women's feelings about their (ex-)partners'119need for counselling was not related to whether they intended to reconcilewith them. Although the women see the involvement of the criminal justicesystem as a deterrent to future violence, they do not believe that proactiveintervention is the sole solution to ending the violence. Seven of the eightwomen saw counselling as an essential part of criminal justice intervention.These women believed that the men needed to examine their violent behaviour,to see the consequences of this behaviour on other family members, and to takeresponsibility for causing the violence. While the women did not see treatmentas an alternative to criminal sanctions, they did see it as a necessary partof the process and they did believe that criminal sanctions could serve asimpetus for the men to change their behaviour.Perhaps the most important finding of the present study and its relationto practice is that individual intervenors, whether they are members of thecriminal justice system, medical professionals, or human service workers, needto recognize and honour the survivor characteristics found in most women whoare victimized. As a first step, they must challenge the traditionalassumptions about these women as passive victims who are unable to makechoices about their futures. When women come to them with symptoms of anxiety,depression, and low self esteem, they must attend to these micro issues butthey must also be aware of interventions required at the macro level. If theyattend only to the symptoms of battering and not to its social basis, it islikely that they will send many women back to their violent relationships,possibly to suffer severe physical and emotional injuries. Most women livingin violent relationships need very practical information and support. Theyneed to have concrete information about resources available to them and aboutwhat will happen if they decide to leave their relationships. Conversely, if120intervenors pay attention only to the women's need for practical resources andservices, and ignore their grief and pain about living with violent partners--and perhaps about leaving them--they may give the impression that they neitherunderstand nor appreciate the emotional struggle these women are engaged in.Social workers in particular can play important roles when these womendo decide to leave violent relationships and can work with them to determinewhat they need in order to maintain their independence and self reliance. Theycan help these women navigate other systems: they can provide information onhow to obtain childcare services and how to apply for job training programs.Social workers need to have some understanding of how the criminal justicesystem works, and of the specific pitfalls these women may encounter if theychoose to participate in the process. They need to know how to facilitatethese women's feelings of empowerment without taking the process over forthem. Most importantly, they need to remind themselves continually of whatthese women have already accomplished and what they are capable of achievingin the future. And finally, they need to let the women themselves decidewhether they ought to live on their own or return to their partners.Counselling for couples should only be considered an option when the womenthemselves choose that option. As it is for other intervenors, the ultimateobligation of social workers ought to be to ensure the safety of these womenand their children.As social workers, we cannot look at practice issues without looking atthe power imbalance that can be created between client and worker. Those of uswho are white-skinned, able-bodied, and well-employed are also privileged inways that many of our clients are not. We may enjoy feelings of acceptance bysociety-at-large, and by its various intervention systems in particular, that121few experience who are nonwhite, who are poor, or who have disabilities. Wewho regard ourselves as feminist social workers have a particular challenge.Feminism calls upon us to examine privilege in our society and to deconstructthe role of gender in power relations, in policy development, and in practiceinterventions. We have an obligation to ask: Who is hurt by this policy? Howdoes this practice intervention support or detract from my client's right toconsider her choices and make her own decisions? How does this policy affectmy client and her ability to be self supporting? We also have a responsibilityto examine the effect of our privileges on our relationships with our clientsand to consider the ways we may unintentionally reinforce the power imbalancesfaced by women who have experienced violence.Our decisions about practice must be founded on our willingness to shareour commonalities as women, and respect our diversity as women, from differentclasses, cultures, lifestyles, and abilities. When we are faced with the factsand figures about violence against women, when we hear about the experiencesof women we know, women we work with, and the many other women we read aboutin the newspapers, it is easy to despair about the lack of progress of womenin society and about the limited efforts to eradicate violence against women.As social workers, we are mandated to empower those with whom we work, whetherthey are individuals, groups, or entire communities. Our work is shaped by theneeds of our clients--their social realities--and by the resources availableto assist them. In the area of violence against women, we face a much largerchallenge: a deeply entrenched system of patriarchy that has formed and shapedour laws and institutional practices. It is only in the past ten years thatthere has been social policy specifically designed to address the issue ofviolence against women, and only in the past five years that efforts to end122violence against women in relationships have been deemed part of the socialagenda of both the federal and provincial governments. While social policy,appropriate practice, and sensitive intervention will offer some solutions forsome women living in--or leaving--violent relationships, only when we honestlyacknowledge the gender nature of these actions, and begin to dismantle thosesocietal structures that maintain and perpetuate gender inequality, will webegin to address our true social agenda: the eradication of the oppression ofwomen and the elimination of violence against them by the men they love.Limitations of the StudyOne of the limitations of the present study is the sample size and thenature of the sampling procedure. The sample is small and purposive in nature.From a quantitative perspective, this method of sampling, although producing a"case-rich" study, is neither a representative sample, nor will it allow forstatistical generalizability. The small sample size and the heterogeneity ofthe women interviewed limit the possibility of making associations betweenparticular variables and reported experiences. In addition, since all of thewomen interviewed live in Vancouver and thus their cases were investigated byVancouver police officers, it is possible that this sample does not adequatelyreflect the population of all women who involve the criminal justice system intheir lives as a result of their partners' violence.Some qualitative researchers (Gupa, 1981; Kirk & Miller, 1986), however,challenge the practice of judging qualitative research by the standards ofquantitative research and believe that qualitative research must be evaluatedby its own standards. Strauss and Corbin (1990) believe that some of thestandards commonly used to judge quantitative research--significance, theory-123observation, generalizability, and consistency--need to be modified to "fitthe realities of qualitative research and the complexities of the socialphenomena that we seek to understand" (1990, p. 250). Given that the purposeof grounded theory is to specify the conditions in which certain interactionsor actions occurred, they posit thatit is generalizable to those specific situations only. Naturally themore systematic and widespread the theoretical sampling, the moreconditions and variations will be discovered and built into the theory,therefore the greater the generalizability (also the precision andpredictive capacity). (1990, p. 251).As noted above, the women of the present study have very diverse backgrounds:a variety of ages, differences in their relationships to the men who assaultedthem, a range of abusive behaviours, different family structures, differentethnic backgrounds, and a variety of occupations, from spiritual therapist toseasonal park employee. Two of the women were interviewed within a few monthsof their experiences, four women were interviewed within a year, and two womenwere interviewed almost two years after their partners had been convicted.Given these differences, the emergent data can offer a level of generalitythat accounts for much diversity, and can consequently provide a certain levelof applicability to the general population.Although there are several differences among the women, there are alsosimilarities that limit generalizability. All of the women live in Vancouver,and dealt with criminal justice personnel working in the Vancouver system.They had access to well-trained and informed service providers as well ashighly respected victim advocacy services. Even though not all of the womenused these services, they knew that these services were available to them andknew how to contact them if they needed them. In all eight cases, the men werefound guilty of assault, and in six of these cases they received sentences124considered appropriate by the women interviewed. This is not consistent withpast research on sentencing outcomes in cases involving assaults againstwomen. It is unknown whether the findings in the present study would besignificantly different if the majority of these men had been acquitted or hadreceived conditional discharges. Would the helpseeking efforts of these womenand their survivor characteristics be any less evident if their partners hadnot been convicted? Based on existing research, it is difficult to assess howimportant a positive outcome is to the women's feelings of pride and new foundstrength.Although there was some ethnic diversity among the women interviewed,none of them had difficulties reading or communicating in English. They didnot have to rely upon interpreters or family members to assist them throughthe process. They were also relatively independent of their families and wereable to make decisions that they considered in their own best interests andthey did not feel required them to sacrifice their own needs to theirfamilies' wishes. Again, based on previous research on the barriers andobstacles faced by women who have been battered from different cultures, theseexperiences do not reflect the majority of immigrant and visible minoritywomen. In addition, the present study does not involve any aboriginal women.The two aboriginal women who were approached did not want to participate. Thisomission from the study reflects both the distrust that many aboriginal peoplefeel toward the Western justice system and the reality that few women fromaboriginal communities are willing to endure the pain of proceeding throughsuch an adversarial and historically racist justice system. Based on theabove, it is likely that the present study is biased in terms of the educationand knowledge level of the women involved. Would the experiences of these125women been very different had they not been able to communicate comfortably intheir own languages or if they had come from cultures that have, in the past,been mistreated by the Canadian justice system? Would women who feared theloss of their temporary immigration status, or the support of extendedfamilies, be able to take a stand against the violence of their husbands?The study may also be biased in terms of the women's economic status.Although they represented a range of income levels and occupational groups,only one of them was actually on welfare. Studies have shown that economicsurvival is an important aspect of these women's decisions to stay or leavetheir relationships. It is not clear what influence economic status had ontheir decisions to take a stand against their partner's violence, but it islikely to have had an impact on the six women who chose to end theirrelationships.Another limitation of the present study is the fact that all of thesewomen had contacts within the justice system that they turned to when theywere frustrated or in difficulty. This may have influenced their perceptionsof events and their responses to obstacles along the way. None of these womenfell through the cracks in the way that many others do, who become involved inlarge confusing systems. This could be evidence of their own resourcefulnessand of their sustained efforts to end the violence, or it could be seen as afactor that limits the generalizability of the study.Finally, the present study may also be informed by my own personalbiases. As stated earlier, my understanding of the world and myconceptualization of the research problem comes from a feminist perspective,which influenced my formulation of the problem, my choice of methodology, myinteractions with the women interviewed, and the ways in which I selected and126presented the words of these women. It is likely that a researcher who did notbelieve that violence against women is a gender-based crime would seedifferent categories and different themes emerging from the data. Anotherresearcher may have focused on the intrusive nature of the justice system inthe lives of family members or may have highlighted the process of grievingthat the women went through when they realized they could no longer maintaintheir relationships with their partners. The present study could be considered"one-sided", since it examines the institutional aspects of violence againstwomen and their efforts to surmount them instead of exploring the emotionalconsequences for women who have experienced violence. However, as Fine (1989)argues,In the case of violence against women, such (individualistic) researchnot only fails to advance the cause of the battered women's, anti-rapeand anti-sexual harassment movements but often works against them bycreating easily assimilated images of women as victims, powerless,unable to fend for themselves and even masochistic. Such researchreinforces hegemonic beliefs that support male violence against womenand facilitates secondary victimization by courts, hospitals, schools,therapists and social agencies. (1989, p. 552).The present study would have benefited from a larger and more variedsample, but is very difficult to find women who are willing to discuss such apainful time in their lives after it has passed. It would have been helpful tointerview women from different jurisdictions, from a greater range of ethnicbackgrounds, and with more diversity in their social and economic status. Withmore time, perhaps such a larger and more diverse group could have been found.In particular, with more time, special efforts would have been made to includeaboriginal women, who have an important and unique perspective on the criminaljustice system. It is also regrettable that this study was not able to includethe experiences of women with disabilities, elderly women, or lesbians: thesegroups of women have been marginalized by the criminal justice system and few127have yet found the support they would need to overcome the many barriers theywould likely face as they moved through the proceedings.If this study were repeated, there would be changes in the interviewguide: more questions would be asked about the women's previous helpseekingefforts and about their past uses of informal and formal sources of help. Bybroadening the interview beyond their actual experiences with the criminaljustice system, valuable information could have been collected regarding theirown process of coming to terms with the violence in their relationships. Also,actual courtroom experience was not as commonplace as anticipated: only fiveof the cases went to trial and only two of the women were required to testifyagainst their partners. These interviews could have been handled effectivelyby asking a few broad questions about experiences during the trial and thenspending more time on the factors that contributed to their decisions topersist with the proceedings. All of the women were very willing to sharetheir opinions with me and a more thorough examination of their views wouldhave provided important data for future work.While coding the transcripts, I noticed that several of the women'sresponses seemed unconnected to the questions asked, perhaps indicating thatthey had things to say that I missed. Several other of their responses werenot as clear as they could have been, perhaps indicating that they did notunderstand the intent of the questions. Most of these responses could havebeen enhanced with follow-up questions to probe or clarify.While analyzing the data, I could have been more consistent in assigningcodes to specific concepts found in various words or phrases, since the firstreading produced a large number of codes, many of which were not sufficientlydistinct to justify a separate label. This meant that much time was required128to determine whether there were real differences between specific concepts orwhether they reflected each other: the transcripts had to be reread severaltimes to establish clearer meanings for the codes. Although this ultimatelydid not bias or alter the findings of the study, it did make the process ofanalysis more time-consuming and awkward than necessary.Implications for Future ResearchIn looking at the experiences of women who have been battered in termsof the helpseeking model, it is evident that their access to--and dependenceupon--their survivor qualities is influenced by their past efforts to seekhelp or to take stands. Further research is needed that focuses on the skillsthat they acquired from their previous helpseeking efforts and how theyapplied these skills to their experiences with the criminal justice system.Such research would help service providers and victim advocates to determinethe resources these women require and the support they may need as they movethrough the process.The present study indicates that criminal justice system personnel,including investigating police officers, would have fewer reluctant witnessesif they could properly assess the stage that these women were at in theirhelpseeking efforts and could determine whether these women were ready to formpartnerships with the justice system to end the violence in their lives. Thewomen of the present study were relieved to be able to relinquish soleresponsibility for ending the violence, but they were willing to relinquishthis responsibility only after they had reached their own conclusions that theviolence must be stopped. If police officers were able to see these women asstrong, determined, and capable of making important decisions about when and129how to proceed, they would be more likely to intervene in a respectful andsupportive manner. The present study indicates that the quality of thesewomen's initial contacts with police officers is crucial to their overallperception of how they are treated by the justice system.More research is needed on the actual process of "criminalizing theviolence" and the contradictory feelings many women experience as they movethe violence from their private realm into the public domain. How do womenreconcile their very private feelings about their relationships with thepublic scrutiny that results from involvement with the criminal justicesystem? Are specially designated family violence courts more hospitable towomen who have been assaulted by their partners? When cases go to trial, whatmore can be done to ensure that the women feel that they are adequatelyrepresented and that their needs are not being neglected, or ignored, tomaintain the rights of the accused?Since "pride in taking a stand" is one of the key themes in this study,it would be useful to compare women who chose to persist with the process withthose who chose to withdraw. Did those women who withdrew from the criminaljustice process encounter obstacles that those women who persisted did not?Did these two groups differ in the quality of their initial contacts with thepolice and other criminal justice system personnel? How important were theseinitial contacts in their decisions to persist or withdraw? Did those womenwho withdrew from the process share the same "pride in taking a stand" felt bythose who persisted? Finally, how important was the support they received frominformal and formal sources of help in enhancing this sense of pride?As noted above, much of the early literature on women who had beenbattered portrayed them as helpless and bereft of the social supports and130skills necessary to end the violence in their lives. Only in the past tenyears have researchers begun to document the many courageous and proactiveefforts that these women take to protect themselves and their children fromfurther violence. Most of these studies have focused on the women's efforts toaccess help before they entered the criminal justice system. The presentexploratory study set out to examine their experiences as they proceededthrough the system and, in particular, to determine the factors the womenconsidered most important in assisting them. Although some of the samequalities of determination and resilience that were documented in previousstudies of women who were battered have emerged in this study, its findingsare only preliminary. Further studies in this area are needed to increase theprofessional knowledge of service providers and criminal justice systempersonnel, and to improve their skills in supporting--and empowering--thesewomen as they take their own stands to end the violence of the men that theyhave known and loved.131BibliographyArkave, M., & Lane, T. (1983). Beginning social work research. Boston: Allynand Bacon.Barnsley, J. (1980). Battered and blamed: A report on wife assault from theperspective of battered women. Vancouver: Transition House and Women'sResearch Centre.Barnsley, J., & Ellis, D. (1982). A study of protection for battered women.Vancouver: Women's Research Centre.Berk, R., & Sherman, L. W. (1984). The specific deterrent effects of arrestfor domestic assault. 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NewburyPark, California: Sage Publications.138University of British ColumbiaSchool of Social WorkINFORMED CONSENT FORMUNEQUAL PARTNERS: BATTERED WOMEN'S PERCEPTION OF THEIR EXPERIENCEWITH THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEMResearcher/Interviewer: Shelley Rivkin 451-0533I, ^ , agree to be interviewedon an audio tape for this study of battered women's perceptions of theirexperiences with the criminal justice system. I understand that ShelleyRivkin is a graduate student in the UBC School of Social Work and that thisstudy is part of the requirements for a Master's degree in Social Work.I have been informed that the purpose of this project is to explore theexperiences of women going through the court process and that the interviewis approximately one and one half hours long.I understand that, as a participant, my rights will not be jeopardized,that my privacy will be maintained, and that the data obtained in thisstudy will be used in a manner to maintain confidentiality and my personalrights.I have been told that the tape containing my interview will be identifiableby a number and will be kept in a locked filing cabinet. I understand thatall of the transcripts and any material that would in any way identify mewill be destroyed at the end of the project.I understand that I may interrupt the interview at anytime to ask forclarification. I understand that I have the right not to answer certainquestions. I am also aware that at any time I have the right to withdraw myconsent and discontinue my participation in the interview.Dated:Signature of the participantDated:Signature of the researcherI have received a copy of this consent form ^Initials of the participantAppendix A: Informed Consent Form139Appendix B: Interview GuideInterview Facesheet Name^ AgeChildren: No.^Gender^AgesOccupation^Currently working^Income AssistanceEthnicity Present marital statusI would like to start the interview by having you talk about the events thatled up to your involvement with the criminal justice system.What was your relationship to the man who assaulted you?How long have you been involved with him?Can you describe the relationship?(probe)^. degree of physical abuse. presence of verbal abuse. evidence of stalkingCan you tell me about the actual incident that resulted in the police becominginvolved?(probe)^. extent of violence. presence of children. other witnessesHave you sought help in the past?Can you describe some of the ways you have previously sought help?. sought out a neighbour or friend(probe)^. contacted a women's centre. gone to a counsellor. talk to a member of the clergy, doctor, etc.. asked for help from family members. gone to a transition house. called the policeHad you called the police before this incident?Can you describe what happened when they arrived?140Can you tell me about the events that led up to your partner being charged?(probe)^. how did the police respond. did they take you to a transition house. did they explain what they were going to do with your partner. were you referred to a victim assistance worker. did they show concern for your childrenHow did you feel about the way the police handled the situation?Were there some things you would have liked them to do differently?How would you describe your reaction when you found out that the police wereplanning to lay charges against your partner?I would now like to talk about the events that took place after the policerecommended that charges be laid.(probe)^. was your partner arrested?. was he released with a "promise to appear"?. were you advised to seek a "no contact order"?. were you able to obtain a "no contact order"?Can you describe your first meeting with the crown counsel and how you feltabout it?What was your understanding of your role if the case went to court?Did you ever consider asking that the charges be withdrawn?What made you decide to proceed with the charges?Can you tell me about the kind of support your received from family, friendsor counsellors?How important was that support in convincing you to proceed with the charges?What made the most difference to you in deciding to continue with the case?(probe)^. support from family or friends?. support from counsellors or victim assistance workers?How would you describe the way you were prepared for the proceedings?How did you feel when you walked into court on that first day?Tell me about the trial and how you felt during the proceedings?Does anything stand out in your mind as making the trial easier to cope with?What was the outcome of the trial?. conviction/sentence?(probe)^. acquittal?How did you feel immediately after you heard the judge's decision?141Now that you have had a chance to think about the meaning of the judge'sdecision, have your feelings changed?Before you became involved in this situation,how would you describe your attitude toward the justice system?To what extent has this experience affected your opinion of the justicesystem?The law requires police to lay charges and crown counsel to prosecute men whohave been charged with assaulting their partners. Now that you have beenthrough it yourself, do you believe it is an effective way to stop men fromcontinuing to batter their partners?In your opinion, are there other options besides police involvement thatshould be available to women who are being battered? If yes, can you tell mewhat some of those options might be?Based on your own experience, how would you describe the justice's system'sattitude toward battered women?What advice would you give other women who want to know if they should proceedwith charges?Looking back on this experience, can you tell me about one incident, eithergood or bad, that really stood out for you?Can you describe some of those ways you think you might have changed becauseof this experience?When you think about what you went through, what do you think was mostimportant to you in you helping you persist with the process?If you could pick a word or a phrase to describe yourself, now that you havecompleted this process, what would you select?142Appendix C: Transcript of Sample InterviewI = InterviewerR = RespondentI: I would like to start by asking you a fewquestions about yourself. How old are you?R: I am 37 years old.I: Do you have children?R: I have three children, one two-year-oldand four-and-a-half-year-old twins.I: What is your occupation?R: Social Worker.I: Are you currently working?R: We are on social assistance.I: What is your relationship to the man whoassaulted you?R: He is my husband and we have been marriedfor seven years.I: What is your marital status?R: We are separated but he is back livingwith me on a trial basis.I: Can you describe the relationship?R: Tumultuous, very highs and very lows, and BACKGROUND:not too much in the middle, lots of^CONFLICT, RELATIONSHIPadversities, financial problems--my husbandand I met in India and we came here two yearsago.143I: Can you describe the situation that ledyou to call the police?R: It was on the night of 30th of September,we had been engaged in an argument already on FIGHTINGthe bus for about 30 minutes, and I, I didn't NO COMMUNICATIONwant to discuss it, and I yelled at him thatI didn't want to talk about it anymore, I hadhad enough, and he struck me very, very hard,^ASSAULT:it landed here on the base of my jaw and^RISK TO SELFbehind my ear and it put me in the bushes, andwhen he did that, then the children cried out,and when they cried out some neighbours were^RISK TO CHILDRENalerted, some of the women were living in ahouse with a balcony, they came out on thebalcony and saw what was going on, and they^VIEWED BY OTHERScalled the police, and then they came down and INVOLVE SYSTEMintercepted, and actually said that they were SUPPORTgoing to stay with us until the police came--yeah, a women's community, it would never havehappened else--at which time, they didprecisely that, they stayed with us until thepolice came about 15 minutes later and theychecked to see if the kids were alright, thatwasn't what the problem was at all, and theyarrested them and then they charged him.^PROTECTION, INTERVENTIONI: Was this the first time you had called thepolice?R: No, I had called the police many timesbefore.I: What was different about this situationthat resulted in charges being laid?R: But this time I didn't call, which isprecisely why it went to the point that itdid, it didn't become a dispute between myhusband and I, another party had called, andthat is why it went to the point that it did,my husband had a restraining order put out onhim, and he managed from, to drop therestraining order, and he was pressuring me alot, to drop the charges, but because I didn'tlay the charges, none of that was in my handsany longer and that's why it came to theposition that it did, otherwise, he has theability to really work on my head, it was verypainful, how it happened as it did.ONGOING VIOLENCEPRIVATE BECOMES PUBLICINVOLVEMENT OF OTHERSMANIPULATE SYSTEMNOT RESPONSIBLEPUBLIC DOMAIN144I: Did the police take you to a transitionhouse?R: I already knew about transition house, Ihad been in transition house two times before. PREVIOUS HELPSEEKINGI: Were you referred to a victim assistanceprogram?R: Yes.I: How did you feel about the way the policetreated you? Were there things that you thinkthat they could have done that would have madeyou feel different?R: These particular police were veryreceptive, unlike some other police that havebeen here, but as I said, the matter was verydifferent, because somebody else called, andnow there was no dispute, someone elsewitnessed me being struck, and so all theyasked me, has it happened in the past, and Isaid yes, and that was enough for them,clearly it was a pattern, and he needed to beaccountable for it. These two were very wellinformed, these two particular officers, theywere very receptive, they wanted to know whatI wanted, they asked me what do you want, Isaid, I want him out of here.I: Were you aware that it is up to police tolay charges?R: Yes.I: What was your reaction when you found outthat the police were going to lay charges?R: I felt good.POSITIVE CONTACTPAST HISTORY OF VIOLENCEWITNESSESPOSITIVE EXPERIENCERESPECTFUL, CONCERNEDTO TAKE ACTIONNOT ALONE145R: I think in something like domesticviolence, it is very good, obviously it is avery complicated issue, for a women especiallyto see clearly, and sometimes somebody elseneeds to have the power to do that, usually itis very complicated, you're feeling very^SUPPORTS POLICYafraid, to take any measure, and in this way^AMBIVALENCEthe onus is off her, it is society that istelling him that this wrong, it is not myopinion, that he can point a finger and holdme accountable, in that way I think it is verygood, but I think the police need more^NOT RESPONSIBLEeducating about this, I was very fortunate in SOCIETAL INVOLVEMENTthis incident, in my mind these policemenseemed very informed and sympathetic. Ihaven't had positive experiences in the past.I: I would like to talk about the events thattook place once the police became involved.^SUPPORTED, RESPECTEDWhat happened after the charges were laid?CHANGE IN ATTITUDESR: He spent 24 hours in jail, and wasreleased on his recognizance, but with arestraining order, and he did not really abideby the order, he telephoned me within fiveminutes of being released and, you know, itbecame a very complicated thing because mychildren wanted to see their daddy, and so on, PROTECTIVE ORDERand I did not have a third party who couldhelp us with the arrangements, so it was like, FEAR, AMBIVALENTyou can come and take the kids, and he got onefoot in the door, and then he was in the houseand, you know, it was difficult to say youcan't go to your room, it was very difficult,and consequently about two weeks we weretalking, and then he was telling me to get the MANIPULATIVE, PRESSURErestraining order dropped and I did, I wasvery sorry that I did.AMBIVALENTI: Did he plead guilty?R: No, it went to a preliminary hearing.SELF BLAME146I: When did you have your first contact witha crown counsel? Can you describe thatcontact and how you felt about it?R: Two days later. He was very easy to talk^SUPPORTIVEwith, this particular crown counsel, very,^VALIDATED FEELINGSvery sympathetic, and at this point my husbandand I had begun counselling procedures, himseparately from me, and so he felt that myhusband was taking steps, but the mere factthe he was pleading not guilty, he was stillin denial and so he really wanted this to goto court fully, and I agreed with him, eventhough I was kind of, I was very nervous aboutthe procedure, um, I was still glad that I wasgoing ahead with it.^ TAKING A STANDI: Were you aware that you might have totestify against your husband, partner, if thecase went to court?R: I felt alright, I think I always knew thatI would have to testify.I: Many women decide to have the chargeswithdrawn after finding out that they will bethe primary witness. Did you ever considerwithdrawing charges?R: Not this time.I: What made you stick with your decision toproceed with the charges?R: Well, the support of the crown counsel,his empathic position, the fact that therewere two witnesses, and, uh, the fact, uh, Ifelt it was really right this time, and thewoman that I was having contact with at victimassistance works with BWSS and I had beengoing to BWSS drop-in for some time.VALIDATING FEELINGSWITNESSES, NOT ALONESUPPORTED147I: Did you go to or call BWSS for assistanceand/or information?R: I knew about them, in fact the last time I INFORMAL SOURCES OF HELPwas in transition, I had information, and thistime, when he was formally charged, I got up a PREVIOUS HELPSEEKINGlot more courage to come to drop-in, but whathappened between the time that he was arrestedand charged, and the time that we went tocourt, I went into transition for two weeks bymyself, and left him with the kids, because I EMPOWERMENThad been in transition before with the kids,and I never really deal with what I needed todeal with, with my kids there, and I didn't^HELPSEEKING, RESOURCEShave a problem with him being with the kids,so I left, and in that two weeks, I did lotsof thinking, and I went to lots of drop-insand I talked to as many people as I could, and ENGAGE SUPPORTI saw a lawyer and I had papers drawn up forus to become legally separated, and the civil PROACTIVErestraining order was then issued. That's whatmade it, it really solidified the happenings^TAKING A STANDof going to court, that's when it happened, inmy time in transition.^ EMPOWEREDI: What other agencies or people did youcontact? What kind of support did youreceive?R: I attended an ongoing support group ondomestic violence at Family Services and, ontop of that, I am also doing one-on-onecounselling, because I started with that whenI was in transition, and I was so desperate totalk to someone about this, and psychiatristshave three months waiting lists, and all theseplaces, it was very difficult to find someone,and fortunately, and at that time BWSS, someof the women were on retreat, was very shortstaffed, so they couldn't give me the kind ofone-on-one I needed, so I got a tip fromVancouver Information Services that they didfree counselling service at the YWCA, andshe's a fabulous counsellor, she had worked intransition houses, had dealt with familyviolence, I was again very fortunate, weconnected and I still see her, I'm doingpretty in-depth counselling.HELPSEEKING EFFORTSACCESS SUPPORTSPERSONAL GROWTH148I: Did your family support you? Can you talka little more about the support you received?R: My mother-in-law, she's aware of what'shappening, she came to visit, she'semotionally supportive of me, it was verypainful for her, for she had lived some of itherself, and while she was here, my husbandand I had a very big fight and I broke myfinger, at which time my daughter ran to hergrandmother and said, he's hurting my mommy,and she just broke down, because it wasprecisely the words that my husband used tohis own grandma, when his mother was beingbeaten, it was like a flashback to twentyyears ago for her and, uh, she told me that itwas very sad for her, and at any cost shewould like to see our family together, but sheknew it was impossible to go on this way. Butshe had a way of really glossing it over, andeven so she saw these bad things, she stillhas this feeling that our family will betogether, so it is kind of difficult there,but she told me in no uncertain terms I wouldget her support. My family would be moredifficult, but her family really, she told me,anytime, first and foremost we are friends andI should do whatever I need to know, and thatwas very nice to know, because I have beenwith her before, with my husband, and therewas always been a lot of tension, a lot ofarguing, when we have all been together, infact that is usually when big major happeningshappen, you see that he's confronted with allthe anger he has with his mother and it comestoward me, but this time she got to see itwithout putting blinders on and it was reallygood for her, too. I didn't try to gloss itover, or pretend that nothing had happened, sothis incident at the end of September happenedjust two weeks after she left.SUPPORTFAMILY HISTORYOF VIOLENCERISK TO SELFRISK TO CHILDRENFAMILY HISTORYOF VIOLENCEDENIALSUPPORTHISTORY OFPHYSICAL ABUSECHANGENEW OUTLOOKPERSONAL GROWTHI: When did you meet crown counsel?R: I met crown counsel the week of the courtdate, what happened was it kept getting putover, it was put over three time because myhusband's lawyer was out of town, it wassupposed to go to preliminary hearing inOctober, it actually didn't go until the 13thof December, the 19th of December, orsomething like that, so it was like, it keptgetting put over, so he never made a plea, butonce he pleaded guilty, then we were incontact, and I was always involved with thevictim's lady, giving the victim impactstatement and everything.I: Was that the victim assistance program?R: Yes.I: Can you describe how you felt as youwalked into court on that first day?DELAYS, FRUSTRATIONLEGAL PROCESSR: I was pretty well prepared, I had sat in^STRONGcourt a number of times, and watched the^AMBIVALENTproceedings, so I wasn't that unfamiliar, buton the day, there was my husband sitting rightbeside me, it was weird, a bizarre feeling,but all in all, it was, felt right because ofall the talking I had been doing with peopleabout it--it felt right.I: What aspect did you find most difficult?R: Believe it or not, to listen to myhusband's testimony, it was hard to believe,^FRUSTRATEDmy husband spoke on the witness stand for 45minutes, I couldn't believe it, the judge gave INVALIDATEDhim lots of rope, because my husband talks alot, which is one of the manipulative aspectsof his personality, and he was going on andon, saying that he did not kick me, the crown DENIALhad said how the first initial contact waswhen he kicked me, and he said it was not, itwas a push with his foot, and he wasexplaining why and it was really convoluted,and as English is not his first language, thejudge gave him a lot of time to explain, andhe explained, and I couldn't stand to hear allthe justifications for what he did, so Ifinally had to leave the room.150I: Were you called to testify? Can youdescribe how that felt?R: Yes, I was fairly well prepared for it,interesting enough, there was not a lot thathis lawyer could dispute, that was where thepush-and-kick debate came from, but when itcame to the slap there was no, he was notdenying that, so everybody was a bit puzzledas to why he was still pleading not guilty.I: Did you feel the judge understood yoursituation? Were there things that you wish youhad--could have told the judge?R: Absolutely, he did get my impactstatement, he did listen to my testimony, andmy recommendations that my husband havemandatory counselling and he had anopportunity to know how I felt about things.I: Did you receive support during the trial?From whom? How did you feel about it?STRONG, PREPAREDFEELINGS VALIDATEDSUPPORTEDRESPONSIBILITY FORVIOLENCE ISACKNOWLEDGEDR: The counsellor did it for me, just the way SUPPORTEDI could talk it over and talk it over, not to INFORMEDrehearse, but to know what was expected of meto recount and to recall it again and again,the best way to do it, and as I say, justknowing It wasn't all in my hands, I didn't^NOT ALONEeven have to testify and this would still havehappened. I think it was the thing that mademe stick with it.I: Overall, how would you describe the wayyou were treated in court?R: Very good. Well, during my husband'stestimony, crown counsel was very good indiscounting some of his things about, like, apush with a foot wasn't a kick, but crowncounsel always managed to whittle that down,and in the end, that he slapped me across theface and he always had a choice not to dothat, he had to be accountable for that--itwas the slap that put me off my balance--andso my husband, in fact, everybody allowed himto dig his own grave, which was very good.POSITIVE EXPERIENCERESPONSIBILITYFOR VIOLENCEIS ACKNOWLEDGED151I: Can you tell me something about someparticular incidents, either good or bad, thatstood out for you during the trial?R: Yes, that was the turning point, was thetestimony of the witnesses. When the crown wasgoing to give the closing argument, the judgesaid he didn't need to hear anymore, he hadreally made his mind up on the basis of whatthe witnesses had said. The witnesses werevery clear, very sure, and their testimoniesdid not conflict each other or mine, so hedidn't even listen to crown's argument.I: What was the outcome of the trial?R: My husband was convicted.I: What sentence did he receive?R: He received probation with conditions--18months, mandatory treatment, and 60 hours ofcommunity service.I: How did you feel immediately after youheard the judge's decision?R: I felt it was very fair.I: Now that you have had time to think aboutthe meaning of the judge's decision, have yourfeelings changed?PUBLIC INVOLVEMENTRESPONSIBILITYFOR VIOLENCEACKNOWLEDGEDVALIDATIONR: No, I think it was still fair, I think itwas a good balance, I was not interested inseeing him go to jail, I was not interested in BEHAVIOURAL CHANGEhim having a criminal record.152I: Has the fact that your husband has goneinto treatment affected him and yourrelationship?R: Yes, he has been able to account for hisactions and know that he has a choice, when we BEHAVIOURAL CHANGEare in a disagreement, he has the choice toalways walk away, and that's the first time hehas always had the notion that he has beenpushed to the end of his tether, that I leavehim no choice but to do what he does, and hehas been able to make a 180 degree change, hehasn't made a 360 degree change yet because I NEW OUTLOOKstill bring him to that point, but its coming,and he is looking toward going into one-on-onecounselling and do some more intense work,once the group ends, and he's getting,actually, its worked out very well, thecommunity service work that he is entitled todo, he's made some very nice connections whichmay lead to a job--he is working for anenvironmental agency, its right up his alleyand they like him and he likes them, so he'sfeeling good about himself and he's able to^BEHAVIOURAL CHANGEcontribute something. We're still havingtrouble sorting out boundaries, and we kind ofblunder it out, he takes on a lot ofresponsibility with the children, and itleaves me some freedom to be away from them,which had never happened before, so because ofthat, I allow him to come in more, andsometimes I get very angry with him, that'swhat happened today as a matter of fact, sowere still struggling a lot but its better.I'm able to say what I need now, which issomething I was never able to do. I am hopeful PERSONAL GROWTHbecause I he does have the ability to change.OPTIMISMI: Before you become involved in thissituation, how would you describe yourattitude toward the justice system?R: Never trust it.BELIEFS153I: To what extent has this experienceaffected your opinion of the justice system?R: I feel that people like BWSS have done alot to impact on the justice system, and^EMPOWERMENTdomestic violence, and I think that was a lotof work on their part, educating people in thejustice system, that helped me go through what CHANGED ATTITUDESI went through, otherwise I am not, I don'thave that much faith in the justice system onits own. Now, over so many years they haveseen the failure of their system and maybethey have to make some changes. People likeBWSS, constantly being on guard, saying thatdoesn't work, and women need to feel safe^NEED FOR ADVOCATESabout testifying, and only through that, Idon't think it was the justice system as itis, that made it possible for me to go throughwhat I went through, I am very lucky, very,very lucky, I am one of those people who wentthrough the fray, I would have been, I wouldhave dropped the charges, I was ready, but the PERSONAL DILEMMAfact that we had that little thing, it was notin my hands anymore, made it so much easier,so much easier, and if other, those other^SHARED RESPONSIBILITYincidents when I did phone the police and the PUBLIC DOMAINpolice did take--like that one time he did notstrike me but he totally demolished the house,and I a two two-week-old babies, and I was notprepared to get into a fracas with him, whichdid not result in my babies being hit, Icalled as soon as it started but it wasn'tenough, it seems like it always has to go to areally bad point, you know, before the policetake a stand properly, but it is verycomplicated.^ PAST EXPERIENCEI: Now that you have been through the justice CHANGED ATTITUDESsystem do you believe it is an effective wayto stop men from continuing to batter theirwives, partners, girlfriends?R: I think it has the potential.BELIEFS154I: In your opinion, should there be otheroptions available to women who are beingbattered. Can you tell me what some of thoseoptions might be?R: I think there should be, there should be,I don't know, maybe education, women need toknow that they don't have to put up with it,^EMPOWERING WOMENlike in the drop-in group, 95% of those women, RESOURCESthey are the sole wage earners, or pay formost things or whatever, yet they still feelthat they can't do, so I don't really know, I^POWERLESSreally wish I knew the answer to that, legaladvocacy, knowing about their legal right.I: Based on your own experience, what do youthink the justice system's attitude is towardwomen who are, or have been, battered?R: Patronizing, I can't really say why I saythat, but very patronizing, women are very^MALE ATTITUDESemotional you know, they don't come from alogical point of view, so I don't think on the LACK OF RESPECTwhole they hold women in the highest esteem,although I must say, there were an awful lotof crown counsel who were women, which I foundsurprising. There was another thing, when Ifirst went to victim assistance to have thecharges dropped, there was this man who Ithought was a real ding-dong, he was like, Ididn't feel warm with him, I didn't feel liketalking with him, nothing, but when I wentback, there was a woman, it was realdifferent, I think they moved him to adifferent department, he didn't last too long,I guess the consensus was with a lot of womenthat they didn't feel too comfortable, it wasobvious, very obvious.I: What advice would you give other women whowant to know if they should proceed withcharges?R: I would really encourage her to do, but,^PERSONAL DECISIONonly if she was physically safe, you have to^SAFETYbe in a position where you feel physicallysafe, but even then there are no real^TRUSTguarantees, you can get a restraining order,^SUPPORTbut that doesn't mean that you have a 24-hourguard at your house. She needs to have a verysupportive network around her, from the legal NEED FOR SUPPORTcommunity as well as from her own community, Ifelt pretty alone in that way, I am not veryconnected to the community that much here, andI don't have family here, but because I got somuch support from BWSS that, uh, they gave me RESOURCESa lot of strength to go forward and it reallyhelped for me to really to come to terms withwhat our relationship has been about for so^AWARENESS OF RISKlong, it really made it clear for me, and thatwas good, there was no more glossing it over,pretending, or denial, it was reallyhappening, it was a very cathartic experience. PERSONAL GROWTHNEW STRENGTHI: Do you feel you have changed because ofthis experience? Can you describe some ofthose ways?R: It has made me stronger, it has mad melisten to myself, in a number of ways, knowingwhat feels right, listening to what feels^INTERNAL STRENGTHright, and acting upon it. I never feltguilty, as much as my husband tried to make me BEHAVIOURAL CHANGEfeel guilty for me going through with thewhole story, he dropped it less and less, hetried to humiliate me, but it wasn't stickingthis time, I felt really right about it. Sothe ability to go forward with that was really TAKING A STANDgood, it has helped me be where I am today--although we are slipping in and out--it is a^NEW STRENGTHwhole lot better.I: If you could say anything you wanted, to amember of the criminal justice system, whatwould you say and who would you say it to?R: I would just want to say: Listen to thosewomen at BWSS, they know what they are^VALIDATE EXPERIENCEspeaking about, and get more information and,if its coming to the court date, really try to SENSITIVITY, RESPECTunderstand where the women is coming from, andwhat it means for that woman to testifyagainst her husband. But as I say, I had sucha positive experience that I can't criticizeit very much. I think the justice system has^CHANGED ATTITUDESclosed the gap a little bit, I think it isgetting better.I: Looking back on this experience, what wasmost important to you in giving you thestrength to carry on with the process?R: To have someone by my side, and that was^NOT ALONEthe woman from victim assistance, I could not SUPPORTEDhave done that without her, she called me EMPOWEREDevery week, she did not prompt me ever, butshe always helped me to clearly recall whathad happened, and it was a constant contact,so when I felt I was wavering I felt thatthere was someone there who would say, I'll bethere with you and I'll help you sit in thatcourtroom, I'll go sit in courtrooms with youso you can watch the proceeding, whatever youneed, I'll help you with, that has been thebiggest help for me. And fortunately for me^VALIDATE FEELINGSalso, to have a crown counsel who wasempathic, and even though I had a male crowncounsel in the end, even though I spoke toseveral female crown along the way, he wasfantastic, he was informed, he was reallygreat.^ PERSONAL CONNECTION157I: If you could pick one word or phrase to describeyourself now that you have completed the process,what would you select?R: I stood up for myself.^ TAKING A STAND158Appendix D: Final Clustering of Transcript CodesHeightened Awareness of RiskPerceptionsActions Beliefs ♦ growing anger♦ increase in severityof the assaults♦ risk to self♦ risk to children♦ children fearful♦ woman fearful♦ change behaviour♦ staying silent♦ control anger♦ ongoing violenceInteraction with theCriminal Justice SystemAccessing Support Validating Feelings Empowerment vs Powerlessness♦ male beliefs♦ unsupported♦ revictimized♦ follow policy♦ change in attitudes♦ ambivalence♦ shared responsibility♦ shut out from the process♦ frustrated with process♦ disinterested and uncaring♦ appropriate sanctions♦ feeling heard♦ condemned violence♦ public involvement♦ positive experience♦ feeling empowered♦ want a shared roleCriminalizing the ViolenceInitial Contact with the PoliceRelinquishing ResponsibilityFear vs Safety♦ involve police♦ witnesses♦ need protection♦ feeling safe♦ not going to take it anymore♦ private to public♦ take action♦ ambivalent♦ pressure from partner♦ greater fear♦ personal connection♦ support from others♦ not alone♦ take a stand♦ police take over♦ respectful/concerned♦ not responsiblefor ending the violenceSurviving the ExperiencePersonal ResilienceBecoming Strong♦ personal growth♦ new strength♦ inner resources♦ independent♦ stand up for rights♦ emerging self♦ new outlook♦ pride in stand♦ independant and assertive♦ able to fight for self♦ deserve better159Appendix E: Certificate of Ethical ApprovalThe University of British ColumbiaOffice of Research ServicesBehavioural Sciences Screening Committee forResearch Involving Human SubjectsCertificate of ApprovalPRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORCarter, B.DEPARTMENTSocial WorkNUMBERB93-0014INSTITUTION(S) WHERE RESEARCH WILL BE CARRIED OUTCO-INVESTIGATORS:Rivkin, S., Social WorkSPONSORING AGENCIESTITLE .^..Unequal partners: Battered women's preception of their experience with the criminal justice.4stem^.^•APPROVAL DATEMAR 3 1 S93TERM (YEARS)3AMENDED:CERTIFICATION:The protocol describing the above-named project has been reviewed by theCommittee and the experimental procedures were found to be acceptable on ethicalgrounds for research involving human subjects.Dr. R. Corteen or^ Dr^D.SpratleyDr. I. Franks, Associate Chairs Director, Research ServicesThis Certificate of Approval is valid for three years provided there is no change in theexperimental proceduresAppendix F: Agency Letter toProvince of^ Ministry ofBritish Columbia Attorney GeneralCORRECTIONS BRANCHPotential ParticipantsVancouver South Probation ServicesSecond Floor, 3457 KingswayVancouverBritish ColumbiaV5R 5L5Telephone: (604) 660-2370Fax: (604) 660-5255January 19, 1993Dear Ms.Vancouver Family Court has received a request from Shelley Rivkin who is a studentin the Masters programme at the School of Social Work at the University of BritishColumbia. She has asked for permission to interview a selected number of womenwho have been involved with the justice system because they were abused by theirhusbands or boyfriends. She wants to interview you about your opinions of how youwere treated by the police and crown counsel and have you describe your experienceof going through the criminal justice system. The interviews will be about one andhalf hours and all responses will be kept confidential.You are under no obligation to participate in the research project. If you areinterested in participating, you will have the option of being interviewed by Ms.Rivkin in her home or in a neutral location. If at any time you are unhappy with thequestions she asks you can withdraw.If you are interested in participating, please contact me at the above phone number. Iwill give Ms. Rivkin your name, phone number and the best times to call you. Shewill follow up with a phone call where she will explain her research project to you inmore detail. Before the interview begins you will be asked to sign a consent form.Sincerely,Andrea RollsFamily Court CounsellorSouth Probation OfficeC) 161Printed on Recycled Paper


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