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Killing Her Softly: Intimate Abuse and the Violence of State Intervention

Linda G. Mills
Harvard Law Review
Vol. 113, No. 2 (Dec., 1999), pp. 550-613
DOI: 10.2307/1342332
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1342332
Page Count: 64
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Killing Her Softly: Intimate Abuse and the Violence of State Intervention
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Abstract

In this commentary, Professor Mills argues that we need to reconsider the feminist position that mandatory interventions in domestic violence cases, including mandatory arrest, prosecution, and reporting, serve the best interests of all battered women. Reviewing the findings from relevant empirical studies, Professor Mills concludes that battered women are safest - and feel most respected - when they willingly partner with state actors to investigate and prosecute domestic violence crimes. Clinically speaking, a battered woman needs a healing response to the intimate abuse, one that nurtures her strengths and empowers her to act. Mandatory state interventions, even when sponsored by feminists, not only disregard these clinical concerns, but also are in danger of replicating the rejection, degradation, terrorization, social isolation, missocialization, exploitation, emotional unresponsiveness, and close confinement that are endemic to the abusive relationship. In an effort to alter these abusive dynamics and promote a more respectful relationship between state actors and battered women, Professor Mills proposes a Survivor-Centered Model that relies on clinical methods that engage the battered woman, foster her healing, and promote her safety.

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