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Domestic Violence Research (1960-2014)
BJC Virtual Issue (2015): 2 (1)

Amanda Robinson, Cardiff University


This Virtual Special Issue of the BJC brings together articles from across the archive that illustrate the long-standing concern of researchers with the problem of domestic violence (also referred to in the journal as wife abuse, intimate partner violence, gendered violence, and violence against women). A generous selection of relevant articles is provided here, in order to provide an international perspective and a comprehensive resource for scholars and students. The articles are presented in chronological order to identify the wide range of perspectives and methods brought to bear on this subject, to illustrate how research and discourse has evolved over half a century of study, and to highlight those topics and concerns which appear stubbornly resistant to the passage of time.

As will become apparent, this Virtual Special Issue does not draw evenly from the 54 existing volumes of the BJC . During the 1960s and 1970s what we know today as ‘domestic violence’ was largely invisible in the BJC 's publications. Glimpses of the problem are only provided by small and disturbing details in publications on other topics. In Moya Woodside’s 1961 article, nearly half of her sample of women imprisoned for drunkenness (11 of 23) gave ‘marital trouble’ as the main explanation for their predicament. Some examples of abusive, controlling behaviour perpetrated by husbands against wives are contained within C. Klein’s 1962 article on mental sadism. Although Sarah McCabe’s perceptive contributions appeared in the 1970s (a Review of Battered Spouses in 1976 and a Note on the Report of the Select Committee on Violence in Marriage in 1977), it is not until the 1980s that the first research article on domestic violence appears, written by Dobash and Dobash.

Apart from being a fascinating exercise in its own right, reviewing the archive revealed the following themes in domestic violence research, as published in the BJC :

1) The enduring importance of employing a gendered analysis

in the consideration of how and why violence between intimate partners takes place, and what to do about it, is evidenced by early as well as later publications. It cannot be said that such a perspective informs the entire collection, however, and the role of gender in domestic violence remains a contentious issue amongst academics, practitioners, and policy-makers.

2) The articles demonstrate the challenge of responding effectively to domestic violence. Although many authors are critical of criminalisation as the primary form of response to domestic violence, much of the research focusses on evaluation of the performance of criminal justice agencies.

3) The research collected here is theoretically rich and methodologically diverse . A single canon does not dominate. Instead, many disciplinary traditions spanning multiple levels of analysis are employed. This is a sophisticated body of work, both conceptually and empirically.

In closing, it is important to note that the focus of this Virtual Special Issue is domestic violence. Publications that focus mainly on sexual violence, rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, and other forms of violence and abuse that disproportionately affect women and girls are not included. Whilst these crimes are often interrelated, inclusion of this broader sample of publications would have resulted in an unwieldy, less focussed collection. There are enough articles on rape, for example, to form the basis of a separate collection. Finally, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it is noteworthy that most of the research presented here is British in origin, followed by that produced in member states of the Commonwealth such as Canada and Australia. Considered together, these articles offer an account of the way in which research can shed light on the problem of domestic violence, and what to do about it. There are many other stories in other parts of the world. Hopefully, by making this collection available in one focussed edition, the BJC will encourage more of them to be told.

1. The Nature and Antecedents of Violent Events
R. Emerson Dobash and Russell P. Dobash from BJC 24 (3)

2. Culture, Masculinities and Violence against Women
Joachim Kersten from BJC 36 (3)

3. The Significance of Compellability in the Prosecution of Domestic Assault
Antonia Cretney and Gwynn Davis from BJC 37 (1)

4. Towards Safer Societies: Punishment, Masculinities and Violence against Women
Laureen Snider from BJC 38 (1)

5. Police Response to Domestic Violence
Carolyn Hoyle and Andrew Sanders from BJC 40 (1)

6. New Survey Methodologies in Researching Violence Against Women
Sylvia Walby and Andy Myhill from BJC 41 (3)

7. Restorative Justice and Gendered Violence: Diversion or Effective Justice?
Barbara Hudson from BJC 42 (3)

8. The Cost of ‘Lost’ Intimacy: The Effect of Relationship State on Criminal Justice Decision Making
Myrna Dawson from BJC 43 (4)

9. Freedom and Integrity, Relationships and Assault
Erin Gibbs Van Brunschot from BJC 43 (1)

10. Making Justice Work: Effective Legal Interventions for Domestic Violence
Ruth Lewis from BJC 44 (2)

11. The Management of Domestic Violence Cases in the Mode of Trial Hearing: Prosecutorial Control and Marginalizing Victims
Steven Cammiss from BJC 46 (4)

12. Making Your Home a Shelter: Electronic Monitoring and Victim Re-entry in Domestic Violence Cases
Edna Erez and Peter Ibarra from BJC 47 (1)

13. Resistance as Edgework in Violent Intimate Relationships of Drug -Involved Women
Valli Rajah from BJC 47 (2)

14. Evaluating Domestic Violence Initiatives
Alpa Parmar and Alice Sampson from BJC 47 (4)

15. What is to be Done About Violence Against Women?: Gender, Violence, Cosmopolitanism and the Law
Sandra Walklate from BJC 48 (1)

16. 'I had a Hard Life’: Exploring Childhood Adversity in the Shaping of Masculinities among Men Who Killed an Intimate Partner in South Africa
Shanaaz Mathews, Rachel Jewkes, and Naeemah Abrahams from BJC 51 (6)

17. Former Refugees and Community Resilience: ‘Papering Over’ Domestic Violence
Gail Mason and Mariastella Pulvirenti from BJC 53 (3)

18. Similar Punishment? Comparing Sentencing Outcomes in Domestic and Non-Domestic Violence Cases
Christine E. W. Bond and Samantha Jeffries from BJC 54 (5)

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