Introduction: A Re-Framing of Stereotypes of Battered Women
About 2 years ago during a conference, I ended up at a lunch table next to a woman who works in a victim assistance program in a southern state. Her state, like many, runs victim assistance programs to help all types of crime victims recover from crime. One service they provide is assistance with the costs of repairs for victims of property crime such as household burglary or vandalism.
This woman specifically handled cases involving domestic violence. She offered the following example, “So if a batterer kicks the door down of his ex-partner, then we can pay for the cost of the repair to the door.” Brief pause. “As long as she has not reunited with him.” I asked her why that was a requirement to receive help. She looked mystified. I asked her if there were any relationship status requirements for assisting other crime victims. “No.” Did other crime victims get interviewed about the better choices they could be making? Better neighborhood? Better locks? Why can’t a woman get help without having to pass some sort of test? She looked — if I was not misreading her expression — astounded and a little annoyed.
To her credit, there did seem to be some conflict registered on her face as she pondered, apparently for the first time, why it made sense to treat battered women differently from every other category of crime victim. The moment passed, however, and she insisted the situation for battered women was “different” without making any further attempt to specify how.