"Everybody makes choices": Victim advocates and the social construction of battered women's victimization and agency

Jennifer L. Dunn, Melissa Powell-Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

60 Scopus citations


Semistructured interviews with 32 domestic violence victim advocates illuminate how advocates explain "battered women who stay." The interviews show that this behavior is a source of great frustration for advocates, who struggle to simultaneously conceive of battered women as victims trapped by social, psychological, and interactional forces and as agents whose choices must be respected. The authors argue that their organizational subculture and the culture of individualism in the contemporary United States do not provide the ideological and linguistic resources necessary for managing this dilemma. This results in a tendency to overemphasize battered women's choice and thereby diminish the constraints they face.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)977-1001
Number of pages25
JournalViolence Against Women
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • Agency
  • Social constructionism
  • Victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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