THE FAMILY SECRET: Domestic Violence in America by William A. & Anson Shupe Stacey

THE FAMILY SECRET: Domestic Violence in America

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The ugly facts about domestic violence are no secret: they have been brought to public attention in recent years by Del Martin (Battered Wives, 1976), Maria Roy, ed. (Battered Women, 1977), Lenore Walker (The Battered Woman, 1979), and others, as Stacey and Shupe indicate in their thorough bibliography. What these two social scientists bring to the dismal picture, from their studies of Texas safe-house populations, are confirmation of the basic family profile, some finer discriminations about motivation and behavior patterns, and additional data on the crucial services which shelters can provide abused women and their children. Like previous observers, Stacey and Shupe find that abused women have a hard time breaking away from violent relationships because of economic dependency--shelter populations are ""resource-poor""--and a knotty emotional involvement with the batterer. Abusive men tend to see violence toward their wives (and, more often than not, their children) as a right--a view which the law has not sufficiently clarified--and many resist the alternate behaviors which counseling programs try to suggest. Women, for the most part, do benefit from the supportive environment a temporary shelter provides, and many are able to make decisions and move on to less troubled lives. Stacey and Shupe consider battered women ""a public health problem"" and insist repeatedly on the importance not only of establishing more shelters but also of firming up legal procedures: present laws tend to protect men and give abused wives the runaround. An accessible update, this unobtrusively mixes research findings with individual case histories without neglecting the larger context of American society.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1983
Publisher: Beacon