The Price of Safety
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Specialized public resources for survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) are increasingly common and diverse--from protection order courts and dedicated domestic violence units in police precincts to a vast network of community-based emergency shelters and counseling services. Yet little consensus exists regarding which resources actually work to reduce violence and help survivors lead the lives they would like to live. This book is an account of these resources and IPV survivors' experiences with them in three communities in the United States.

Through detailed observations of services such as court procedures, public benefits processes, and community-based IPV programs as well as in-depth interviews with dozens of IPV survivors and practitioners, Shoener describes how our current institutional response to IPV is often not useful--and sometimes quite harmful--for IPV survivors with the least material, social, and cultural capital to spare. For these women, as the interviews vividly record, IPV has long-term economic and social consequences, disrupting career paths and creating social isolation.



Publié par
Date de parution 24 janvier 2017
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780826521231
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1000€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


The Price of Safety
The Price of Safety
Hidden Costs and Unintended Consequences for Women in the Domestic Violence Service System
Sara Shoener
Vanderbilt University Press ■ Nashville
© 2016 by Vanderbilt University Press
Nashville, Tennessee 37235
All rights reserved
First printing 2016
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data on file
LC control number 2016007504
LC classification number HV6626.2 .S5445 2016
Dewey class number   362.82/9280973
ISBN 978-0-8265-2121-7 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-8265-2122-4 (paperback)
ISBN 978-0-8265-2123-1 (ebook)
For WC
1. “I was crazy and in court all the time”
The Economic Ripple Effect of Intimate Partner Violence
2. “They just focus on the fact that I’m screaming”
The Enduring Strain on Social Support
3. “Men get bonus points just for walking in the door”
The Prioritization of Two-Parent Families
4. “I’m not so sure what they think I’m going to invest”
Unaffordable Safety
5. “They treat you like they’re family”
The Value of Supportive Relationships
6. Lowering the Price of Safety: Toward Structural Solutions to Intimate Partner Violence
THIS BOOK IS TESTAMENT to the brilliant, brave, badass women who brought me up. Thank you to my academic mentor, Jennifer Hirsch, who showed me that the most chaotic schedule leaves room for acts of kindness, that worthwhile projects are not eggs, and that there are no good answers to the question, “Who are you not to be fabulous?” To Erika Sussman, thank you for teaching me how to turn wild ideas into real change and for stoking the idealism and energy of a wide-eyed college grad all those years ago. To Elizabeth Randol, thank you for always pushing me to do the things I never imagined I was allowed to. And of course, thank you to my mom, Carol Shoener, who continues to teach me how to proudly define womanhood on my own terms every day.
I am also indebted to Helen-Maria Lekas, Kim Hopper, Vicki Lens, and Marni Sommer. I could not have found a group of scholars who are more fully committed to both social justice and the well-being of their mentees. Thank you for the thoughtful readings of many manuscript drafts, the countless cups of tea, the willingness to turn around chapters with a week’s notice, and the much-needed pep talks when my self-confidence was suffering. Thanks to Katie Frake and Julia Casey for insightful editing help and for welcome company as this project got over the finish line.
An extra special thank you goes to my partner, Ryan Shanley, for his seemingly endless patience and encouragement during the past seven disorganized, wonderful years. His willingness to roll with my exacting dinner requests, to hold down the fort alone at a moment’s notice, and to always be my most enthusiastic cheerleader made this project possible. I also send a loving wink to my terriers, Pigeon and Piper, for ensuring that no day goes by without a few laughs.
Finally, my deepest gratitude is to the people who participated in this study and shared pieces of their lives with me. I thank the practitioners at my host sites for their courageous willingness to have their professional efforts put under the microscope for the sake of improving our collective work. Most important, I thank the survivors of intimate partner violence for sharing their wisdom with us all. I carry their stories with me every day and will forever be in awe of their strength, resilience, and hope.
KAREN LEFT HER ABUSIVE HUSBAND, Ed, and moved into her own home in 2006, with no intention of ever returning to him.
More than five years later, Karen and I sat on a couch in a transitional housing facility for domestic violence survivors and talked about her decision to rekindle her relationship with Ed in 2009. She spoke candidly and humbly, with a voice that sounded as though she were always smiling, even as she recounted the darkest parts of her past. She radiated a quiet strength and unmistakable grit.
Karen had been living in a small beach town when she met Ed. She was making a living chartering fishing trips for tourists, and Ed owned a bar down the road from Karen’s work, supplying six-packs of light beer and cartons of cigarettes to the bachelor parties and fraternity reunions that composed most of Karen’s customer base. Karen and Ed began dating as one tourist season died down, and by the time the next one began, Karen was pregnant and engaged to Ed.
“During my last trimester was the first time he put his hands on me,” Karen remembered. “So it started real early and got real worse.”
Together Karen and Ed were raising three children: two of their own along with Ed’s daughter from a previous relationship. Ed often physically abused the children and would then brutally beat Karen in front of them. He was frequently incarcerated for the violence during their marriage, but for a long time Karen didn’t leave him. “I couldn’t possibly understand the fact of mov ing. I didn’t have anyone to look over my step-daughter,” she explained. “So I stayed.”
Karen tried to get Ed to focus his abuse on her in order to protect the children: “When it came to the kids, I had a voice. I remember, I was pregnant with my youngest and [Ed] had [his daughter] by the scruff of her shirt. And he had his arm pulled back. And I was like, ‘Oh, no.’ And I jumped into the middle of it and distracted it. Got the focus on me. That was a daily thing.”
Ed’s violence took a psychological toll on everyone in the family. Karen’s step-daughter was having panic attacks at school, and her own children were increasingly angry and rebellious. Karen started taking medications prescribed by her psychiatrist. “I was becoming extremely depressed and mentally sick, . . . and by then, I was taking pills,” she told me. “My doctors would be prescribing me all of these anti-anxiety medications, and that’s how I coped with the world.”
Karen ultimately left Ed when he killed the family dog in front of Karen and the children and was sentenced to a year in prison. With Ed a safe distance away, Karen felt that she could file for divorce without Ed taking out his anger on his oldest daughter. Karen successfully relocated, found a safe place for her step-daughter, and won full legal custody of her two children. Once everything had settled down, however, the effects of her trauma took hold, and Karen began abusing her medications.
“I didn’t pick up counseling,” Karen said, “which I know was suggested. But I was just like, ‘I don’t want to deal with it. I just want to put it behind me.’ ” She continued to take the medications and eventually developed an addiction to them. After a year, she realized that she needed help.
Karen wanted to provide a safe and stable home for her children and became afraid that she was losing the ability to do so. She decided to seek help from a day treatment facility for substance abuse. She recalled:
I opened a case for me to ask for help. And then this was a child endangerment issue. And so they swooped in and put my kids in foster care. . . . I was getting angry. And I love my children too much. I would hate to be pushed to the part where I react on my anger. So I told them, “I feel like I might hit [my children].” They used that against me in court [laughs]. The legal system in [this city] failed me. Big time. I thought I was being a good mom.
Karen’s children were put in foster care and then custody was transferred to Ed when he was released from prison.
“Before I lost custody, he wasn’t even allowed to see my children without supervised visits. Because he was just very manipulative, saying inappropriate things to the children, and my oldest son feared him. He had nightmares about him.” Karen explained, half-laughing, “And now [Ed]’s in court saying, ‘Oh, I took a parenting class.’ ”
When Karen finished treatment she sought to regain custody of her children through the court system but was denied. When she lost custody, she also lost the child support payments and public assistance she was receiving. Without a stable source of income and a place to live, the court did not find her fit to parent. She explained:
[Ed] had a place. He was stable. He wooed them. They loved him. Even the children’s caseworker. They looked down on me. They looked at me as a junkie. And that was the hardest thing because I knew in my heart that I loved my kids and was doing what was best for my kids. And I was getting stuck in the system. And when they gave custody to Ed, I was devastated. That’s when I decided, “You know what? I’m done listening to the rules.”
In an act of desperation and fear, Karen resumed her relationship with Ed in order to coax him into transferring custody rights to her. He ultimately agreed, and once the paperwork was signed, Karen left the state with her children for a second time:
I called him and I said, “I really want to reconcile. I have two years of sobriety, it was all me, the marriage ended because I was taking the pills.” And he let me back in. And then I was just like, “Oh, since you work in [another state], it’s really important that we have joint custody so I can do the doctors’ appointments and the school.” So he went to court, gave me my custody. And once I had joint custody, I went to court and said, “I want to move to my mom’s in [a different state].” And I left him.
Survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) across the United States have stories similar to Karen’s. This book is about what I learned from observing and hearing some of these stories, a

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