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NCJ Number: 183281 Find in a Library
Title: Battered Women in the Restraining Order Process
Journal: Violence Against Women  Volume:6  Issue:6  Dated:June 2000  Pages:606-632
Author(s): Angela Moe Wan
Date Published: June 2000
Page Count: 27
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reports observations of how legal advocates in a court advocacy program in southeastern Wisconsin are affecting battered women's lives through their services; and it provides accounts of battered women's experiences in the court system and responses by court personnel to them.
Abstract: Between January and May 1998, the author spent approximately 150 hours as a legal advocate in the court advocacy program, which assists battered women in obtaining restraining orders (ROs). The conceptual framework for the author's observation was Messerschmidt's (1997) structured action theory, which holds that structure and action are mutually reinforcing phenomena. Gender, race, and class are dimensions of social structure that help to shape the actions and interactions of woman batterers, battered women, and the array of advocacy and court personnel with whom they relate. Messerschmidt's perspective offers an explanation for woman battering and societal responses to it; and it is also useful in explaining battered women's experiences in the courts and the role of women's advocates in interactions that occur during the RO process. In the program observed by the author, advocates begin working with victims of domestic violence when they attend one of the five daily legal clinics offered by the program. During these clinics, advocates help victims complete and file RO petitions. Advocates prepare and advocate for their clients during RO hearings as well. Finally, advocates lend moral support to and maintain phone contact with their clients throughout the process. A descriptive typology that involved three types of demeanor was used to categorize the interactions observed between battered women, court personnel, and advocates; they were borrowed from Ptacek's (1995) typology of judicial demeanor. The categories of demeanor were "good-natured demeanor," "bureaucratic demeanor," and "firm or condescending demeanor." The most common demeanors exhibited by both court personnel and advocates were good-natured and bureaucratic demeanors. Women exhibited some dissatisfaction with the bureaucratic demeanor. A firm and condescending demeanor was the least common demeanor exhibited by advocates, but many women were observed being degraded and humiliated by a small number of court personnel who regularly played significant roles in RO cases. These observations are discussed in relation to existing research and theory on work with battered women and to the social context in which such work occurs. 2 notes and 26 references
Main Term(s): Court-sponsored victim services
Index Term(s): Battered women programs; Court personnel attitudes; Domestic assault; Domestic assault prevention; Restraining orders; Wisconsin
Note: This article is a revised version of an article presented at the 1998 meetings of the American Society of Criminology, Washington, D.C.
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