"We don't have Time for Social Change": Cultural Compromise and the Battered Woman Syndrome

  • Rothenberg B
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Abstract

This article explores how the acceptance of the batteredwoman syndrome as the explanation for why abusive relationships continue can be understood as a cultural compromise. The syndrome’s portrayal of batteredwomen as passive victims resultedin an exclusive definition of who “counts” as a victim. It further emphasizedmany abusedwomen’s weaknesses rather than their resourcefulnessandoverlooked the plights of a great variety ofwomenin needof help.More important, it placedemphasis on individual- ized solutions for domestic violence rather than addressing structural inequalities in American society. These issues ultimately led to a critique by other advocates of the batteredwomansyndromeas an inade- quate and flawed explanation for domestic violence. Yet despite its weaknesses, the syndrome allowed advocates the chance to appeal to the larger public and, ultimately, begin the process of alleviating structural inequalities.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Battered woman syndrome
  • Battered women's movement
  • Cultural compromise
  • Domestic violence
  • Lenore Walker

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Authors

  • Bess Rothenberg

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