Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Lexington Books


Academicians and practitioners have increasingly recognized domestic violence, particularly the battering of women by their intimate partners, as a social and public health risk to women (Cherlin, Burton, Hurt, and Purvin 2004; Holtz and Furniss 1993; Johnson 2006, 2008; Mills 2008; Roberts 1996; Rosenbaum and O'Leary 1981). Despite the difficulty in estimating accurately the prevalence and incidence of intimate violence, the American Bar Association's Commission on Domestic Violence (2005) reported the following: 28 percent of all annual violence against women is perpetrated by intimates; by the most conservative estimate, each year one million women suffer nonfatal violence by an intimate and chat four million American women experience a serious assault by an intimate partner during an average twelve-month period; nearly one in three adult women experience at least one physical assault by a partner during adulthood; and that domestic violence crosses ethnic, racial, age, national origin, sexual orientation, religious, and socioeconomic lines. More locally, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (2007) reported that, in the year 2006, Californians placed about twenty thousand calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline; in the same year, California law enforcement received 176,299 domestic violence-related calls.

There has been a rich history of theorizing about why violence in family relationships occurs as well as about the process and resolution of violence. Implicitly or explicitly associated with such theorizing about family violence are programs and services to address the problem. The earlier theoretical chinking, guided by feminist perspectives of gendered violence, focused primarily on the legal problematics in the relationship between the victim and batterer (for example, Dobash and Dobash 1979, 1992; Dobash, Dobash, Wilson, and Daly 1992; Ferraro 1993; Yllo and Bograd 1988). The resulting programs were retributive in nature (Zehr 2002, 2005), centered on legally addressing the crime of family violence. More recently, there have been cautious attempts to introduce restorative justice principles into programs that address family violence, with an emphasis on repairing the harm caused by the violence and reintegrating the victim and batterer into their communities of care (see Cunis-Fawley and Daly 2005; Ptacek 2010; Umbreit, Vos, Coates, and Brown 2003; Van Ness and Strong 2006; Zehr 2001, 2002, 2005). In this monograph, we will examine women's voices as they describe the violence they experienced in intimate partner relationships and make an evidence-based case for the imperative need to introduce restorative justice principles into the existing menu of domestic violence services. In the process, the linkages between the two research traditions, of domestic violence and restorative justice, will a so be explored.


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