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The Politicization of SafetyCritical Perspectives on Domestic Violence Responses$
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Jane Stoever

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479805648

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479805648.001.0001

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Empowerment Politics and Access to Justice

Empowerment Politics and Access to Justice

(p.62) 3 Empowerment Politics and Access to Justice
The Politicization of Safety

Elizabeth L. MacDowell

NYU Press

This chapter examines how domestic violence advocates and activists conceptualize empowerment, and the implications for low-income survivors seeking protection orders in family courts. Findings from an empirical study of self-help programs assisting unrepresented survivors are analyzed in light of empowerment principles. The chapter shows that the multidimensional empowerment ideals of participants in the early battered women’s movement—which included the development of personal agency and political consciousness, ultimately resulting in political action—have been replaced in these self-help settings by a much narrower focus. Advocacy groups hope that information about legal remedies and procedures will empower applicants for protection orders. However, these programs provided incomplete information and are objectively disempowering. The chapter concludes that more research is needed about the impacts of self-help services on legal consciousness, and access to justice efforts would benefit from the insights of more multidimensional approaches.

Keywords:   Advocacy, Empowerment, Multidimensional empowerment, Agency, Self-help, Access to justice, Protection orders, Family court, Battered women’s movement, Legal consciousness

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