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A Troubled MarriageDomestic Violence and the Legal System$
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Leigh Goodmark

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814732229

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814732229.001.0001

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(p.54) 3 Deconstructing the Victim

(p.54) 3 Deconstructing the Victim

Chapter:
(p.54) 3 Deconstructing the Victim
Source:
A Troubled Marriage
Author(s):

Leigh Goodmark

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814732229.003.0004

This chapter examines the stereotypes of women that currently pervade the legal system and their implications for women subjected to abuse who seek the system's assistance. It begins with an overview of images of victims of domestic violence prior to the rise of the battered women's movement. It then outlines the construction of the paradigmatic victim, a construction informed by Lenore Walker's theory of learned helplessness based on her book, The Battered Woman, and enshrined in the law through battered woman syndrome. It also considers an alternative theory intended to explain the behavior of women subjected to abuse: the survivor theory developed by sociologists Edward Gondolf and Ellen Fisher. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the consequences of the failure to conform to the passivity stereotype for women subjected to abuse.

Keywords:   stereotypes, domestic violence, battered women, Lenore Walker, theory of learned helplessness, battered woman syndrome, survivor theory, Edward Gondolf, Ellen Fisher, passivity

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