chapter  3
24 Pages

Reconceptualizing Agency in Domestic Violence Court

The movement to end violence against women has scored impressive victories over the past two decades. Had it not been for women’s activism, there would be no recognition of violence against women as a social problem, no domestic violence legislation, no police assistance, few judges and lawyers willing to hear women’s complaints or to offer even token remedies. Had it not been for this activism, there would be no made-for-TV movies about male violence against women, no reports on the nightly news about men who batter, no recognition that private violence is anything other than a personal problem. Alberto Melucci (1989, 79), writing on social movements, suggested that successful movements wrest policy-making from the exclusive control of professionals and the state. If the ability to enter into and affect debates on policy is a measure of movement success, then the battered women’s movement is one of the most successful movements of our time (see Schechter 1982; Dobash and Dobash 1992).