I would like to thank Anna-Maria Marshall, Jinney Smith, Andrew Pickering, Elizabeth Pleck, Catherine Kenney, Jennifer Hardesty, and four anonymous reviewers for thoughtful comments on earlier drafts of this article. I also thank Carroll Seron for her patient and thoughtful guidance through the editing process. This research was supported by a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant (SES 03-51818), awarded through the Law and Social Science Program.
The Agencies of Abuse: Intimate Abusers' Experience of Presumptive Arrest and Prosecution
Article first published online: 19 FEB 2008
© 2008 by The Law and Society Association. All rights reserved.
Law & Society Review
Volume 42, Issue 1, pages 111–144, March 2008
How to Cite
Guzik, K. (2008), The Agencies of Abuse: Intimate Abusers' Experience of Presumptive Arrest and Prosecution. Law & Society Review, 42: 111–144. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5893.2008.00336.x
- Issue published online: 19 FEB 2008
- Article first published online: 19 FEB 2008
Presumptive arrest and prosecution policies are designed to eradicate domestic violence by disrupting abusive relationships and transforming the subjectivities of victimized women and abusive men. Using in-depth interviews with 30 persons arrested and prosecuted for domestic violence, this article examines the power of presumptive policies by exploring how intimate abusers experience them. The study finds that while the police and courts are able to secure arrests and convictions on domestic violence cases, nearly all the respondents in this study understand their punishments as unfair sanctions meted out by an unjust local legal system rather than as the consequences of their own actions. These injustice claims emerge from abusers' group identities as well as the very practices through which the police and courts gain authority over them. These findings demonstrate that the power of the law as a force for social change may be more limited than some have claimed. In addition, they reinforce calls to reform society's response to intimate violence through procedures that can go further in empowering victims and having offenders recognize their responsibility for violence.