That organization was the first refuge in the world created for the care and treatment of battered women and their children. I continued to run this program until 1982. In 1974 I wrote the first book in the world on the subject of wife-battering, Scream Quietly or The Neighbors Will Hear.
Not many years had passed from the time of my founding the refuge before I recognized that in Chiswick Women's Aid, and in other refuges that had grown up throughout the world, two distinct problems were being treated under the one unified heading of "refuge" (shelters in America). One was that of what I came to call "genuine battered women." The other problem was that of what I came to call "violence-prone women." The difference between the two types of people can be stated quite simply:
• A battered person is the unwilling and innocent victim of his or her partner's violence;
• A violence-prone person is the unwilling victim of his or her own violence.
In 1981, I published a piece in the British New Society periodical further stating the importance of this differentiation.
"The time has come for a clear distinction to be made between a woman who has accidentally become involved with a violent partner and who now wishes to leave and to never return again, and a woman who, for deep psychological reasons of her own, seeks out a violent relationship or a series of violent relationships, with no intention of leaving."
Any honest worker in the field of family violence will admit to at least an unconscious awareness of this distinction.
Any honest worker in the field of family violence knows on some level that there are women who can be liberated from violent relationships without much difficulty. Such a woman well may require aid in finding new living accommodation, financial help, legal help, and emotional support to overcome her feelings of responsibility, compassion, and even pity for the abusive partner whom she intends to leave. This is the woman whom I call the genuinely battered woman.
Any honest worker in the field of family violence, however, must admit also to knowing women who prove very difficult to help. In the case of such a woman, new housing arrangements may be provided, legal and financial aid may be given, and all preparations may be made for the woman concerned to begin a new life independent of her abusive partner. Such a woman then returns repeatedly to her partner, or, if she does leave the original partner, finds herself in a relationship with a new and equally violent partner. This is the woman whom I call the violence-prone woman.
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