The Response of the British and American Women’s Movements to Violence Against Women

  • R. Emerson Dobash
  • Russell P. Dobash
Part of the Explorations in Sociology book series (EIS)


In charting the discovery of the problem of wife abuse, the building of a social movement, and the formulation of responses in Great Britain and the USA, it is only possible in this chapter to touch upon some of the most important events and issues within the larger struggle for change. In both countries, the battered women’s (BW) movement emerged from the broader women’s movement and has formed a significant part of it since the early 1970s. The accomplishments of the BW movements during the last decade involved numerous crucial struggles over the recognition of the problem, recognition and legitimation of grass-roots activists, definitions of causes and solutions and construction of pragmatic and direct ways of working within these movements as well as with outside agencies. It is important to stress that the achievements have been gained through continuous struggle and confrontations, although this chapter will concentrate more on the outcome than the process by which it was achieved.


Domestic Violence Criminal Justice System Battered Woman Wife Beating Wife Abuse 
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  1. 1.
    See, for example, the accounts in ‘Learning from Women’s Aid: A Paper from Northern Ireland Women’s Aid’, Aegis (September/October, 1978); Scottish Women’s Aid Annual Report (1984); Welsh Women’s Aid Annual Report (1984). Details are also given in Binney et al., 1981; Evason, 1982; Pahl, 1978; Schechter, 1982; Warrior, 1976.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See the report from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Violence in Marriage, vol. 2, Session 1974–75 (London: HMSO, 1975) p. xxxi.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Some of the programmes for men who batter are described in ‘Emerge: A Men’s Counselling Service’, Aegis (Winter/Spring, 1980); ‘Men Against Violence Against Women’, Aegis (Winter/Spring, 1980), ‘Battering Men’s Project’, Aegis (Winter/Spring, 1980).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See D. Martin, ‘Overview: Scope of the Problem’, USCCR Battered Women: Issues of Public Policy (1978) (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office), pp. 3–18; M. Fields, ‘Wife Beating: Government Intervention Policies and Practices’, USCCR, Battered Women: Issues of Public Policy (1978), (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office) pp. 228–87; A. Flitcraft, ‘Shelters: Short Term Needs, A Response’, USCCR, Battered Women: Issues of Public Policy (1978) (Washington DC: Government Printing Office), pp. 113–34.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See M. Straus, ‘Wife Beating: Causes, Treatment and Research Needs’, in USCCR, Battered Women: Issues of Public Policy, pp. 152–56 and 463–526, (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office); E. Hilberman, ‘Response to Murray Straus’, in USCCR, Battered Women: Issues of Public Policy, (1978), pp. 157–9, 527–31, E. Pleck, J. Pleck, M. Grossman and P. Bart, ‘The Battered Data Syndrome: A Reply to Steinmetz’, Victimology: An International Journal, vol. 2, no. 3–4 (1977), pp. 680–3 M. D. Pagelow, Women-Battering: Victims and Their Experiences (Beverly Hills, California: Saga Publications, 1981) R. E. Dobash and R. P. Dobash, ‘Social Science and Social Action: The Case of Wife Beating’, Journal of Family Issues, vol. 2, no. 4 (1981), p. 439–70, R. P. Dobash and R. E. Dobash, ‘The Context Specific Approach to Studying Violence Against Women’, pp. 261–76, D. Finkelhor et al. (eds), The Dark Side of Families (London: Sage, 1983).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Scottish Women’s Aid, Ainslie House, 11 St Colme Street, Edinburgh, Scotland; Welsh Women’s Aid, Incentive House, Adam Street, Cardiff, Wales; Irish Women’s Aid, 143a University Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland; Women’s Aid Federation (England), 52/54 Featherstone Street, London EC1, (the latter no longer in existence).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    For recommendations about state and federal legislation see Attorney General’s Task Force on Family Violence: Final Report (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, 1984), pp. 96–107.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© British Sociological Association 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Emerson Dobash
  • Russell P. Dobash

There are no affiliations available

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