THE BATTERED WOMAN by Lenore E. Walker


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My feminist analysis of all violence is that sexism is the real underbelly of human suffering. . . . A cornerstone, then, of the creation of a new egalitarian social order would be to reverse the tides of violence committed against women."" Psychologist Walker has yet to prove her first statement, but her examination of battered women, an increasingly recognized phenomenon, does scrutinize both common. myths and sorry realities and offers, in addition, some tested interventions. Women, she maintains, undergo a process of victimization, acquiring a ""learned helplessness"" which leaves them prey to abuse, unable to fault their abusers and unwilling to leave them--better a batterer than no man at all. Using numerous case histories, she traces the cycle of behavior in which tension builds and essentially inconsequential actions trigger violent outbursts, followed by a period of contrition--remorse, flowers--which acts to restore the battered woman's positive feelings for her attacker. Walker has substantial evidence and she insists, as others have, that such victimization is not only a lower-class or minority syndrome, that white middle-class women experience the same kinds of mistreatment. (In fact, she estimates that 50 percent of all women are potential victims.) Police called in are often timid, onlookers tend not to interfere, and judges have generally been wary of intervening; yet restraining orders are effective, hot lines and safe houses usually helpful. A Denver therapist, Walker has worked with many of these women and discusses the advantages and limitations of individual, couples, and group treatment: although husband and wife may benefit from treatment, most need new relationships for their new skills. She doesn't overwork her feminist theories, focusing instead on patterns of abuse, their immediate origins and resolutions.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row