Locking up men who beat their partners sounds like a tremendous improvement over the days when men could hit women with impunity and women fearing for their lives could expect no help from authorities. But does our system of requiring the arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of abusers lessen domestic violence or help battered women? In this already controversial but vitally important book, we learn that the criminal justice system may actually be making the problem of domestic violence worse. Looking honestly at uncomfortable facts, Linda Mills makes the case for a complete overhaul and presents a promising alternative.
The evidence turns up some surprising facts about the complexities of intimate abuse, facts that run against mainstream assumptions: The current system robs battered women of what power they do hold. Perhaps as many as half of women in abusive relationships stay in them for strong cultural, economic, religious, or emotional reasons. Jailing their partners often makes their situations worse. Women are at least as physically violent and emotionally aggressive as are men toward women, and women's aggression is often central to the dynamic of intimate abuse.
Informed by compelling evidence, personal experience, and what abused women themselves say about their needs, Mills proposes no less than a fundamentally new system. Addressing the real dynamics of intimate abuse and incorporating proven methods of restorative justice, Mills's approach focuses on healing and transformation rather than shame or punishment. Already the subject of heated controversy, Insult to Injury offers a desperately needed and powerful means for using what we know to reduce violence in our homes.
"A bold new book guaranteed to cause a stir among mainstream feminists as well as among mental health and law-enforcement professionals."--Publishers Weekly
"Drawing both on research and on her own experience in the field, Mills concludes that the conventional feminist paradigm of domestic violence as a form of patriarchal oppression is woefully inadequate. . . . [Mills's] message needs to be heard by politicians, judges, prosecutors and many others. It took the 'mainstream' feminists about 30 years to establish their monopoly on the public debate about domestic violence. Mills's book may be the first step in dismantling that monopoly."--Cathy Young, Boston Globe
"The real strength of Mill's book lies in her repudiation of a one-size-fits-all approach to domestic violence. . . . As a challenge tocurrent dogma, it is a breath of fresh air. One can only hope that its alternative message will be heard in the courses and seminars held across the country to educate counselors, law enforcement, and judges about domestic violence."--Cathy Young, Reason
"What a breath of fresh air. [This book] takes on the entrenched and very powerful. Superb stuff. . . . Exhilarating."--Archbishop Desmond Tutu
"Here is a searching and spirited story of human intimacy as it sometimes descends into aggression: violence inflicted and vulnerability endured--a melancholy story told with thoughtfulness, with sensitivity, and with a brave willingness to consider the subtleties and ironies of affliction perpetrated and endured."--Robert Coles, Harvard University, editor of "DoubleTake" magazine, and author of The Secular Mind
Table of Contents:
Giving Thanks xi
PART I: Rethinking Our Responses to Intimate Abuse
One: The Ground Zero of Intimate Abuse 19
Two: Mandatory Policies as Crime Reduction Strategies: Do They Work? 22
Three: Power over Women in Abusive Relationships 50
Four: Are Women as Aggressive as Men? 67
PART II: Fixing the Failures
Five: The Dynamic of Intimate Abuse 87
Six: Changing the System 101
Seven: Learning to Listen to Narratives of Intimate Abuse 119
Eight: A Better Way 134
This book has been translated into: