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In a book focused on the intersection of law and psychology in women's lives, this chapter reviews the evolving law of domestic violence, examining the features of the legal landscape that have changed in the past three decades for those who have experienced violence in intimate relationships. The chapter considers the legal development of interventions such as civil protection orders, civil lawsuits, mandatory arrest and no-drop prosecution policies, the conception of crimes such as restraining order violations and stalking, and the potential use of alternative forms of dispute resolution. Changes in the law of self-defense as applied to intimate violence cases--for example, the contested notion of battered woman syndrome--are also assessed. The chapter explores broadly the theoretical and practical issues surrounding these policies and concepts and the controversies that they have provoked. Particular attention is paid to the use of executive clemency processes in many states as a form of retrospective relief for defendants convicted of crimes against their batterers, analyzing those battered women's clemency projects that met with considerable success as well as those which ended largely in disappointment. The chapter seeks to gauge the extent of the overall progress in law's efforts to address the problem of intimate violence and to identify the continuing difficulties facing its victims.


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7 Sep 2022
698 kB



  • Subject
    • Civil Rights and Discrimination

    • Domestic Law

    • Gender

    • Law and Society

  • Journal title
    • The Handbook of Women, Psychology, and the Law

  • Date submitted

    7 September 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Suggested Citation:

      Phyllis Goldfarb. " Intimacy and Injury: How Law Has Changed for Battered Women." In The Handbook of Women, Psychology, and the Law. Edited by Andrea Barnes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005.