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Battered Women Speak Out

NCJ Number
Noel B. Busch; Terry A. Wolfer
Date Published
18 pages
This study discussed the effects and experiences of disclosure of abuse histories of battered women.
This study discusses the effects and experiences of disclosure of their abuse histories by 10 battered women, living in shelters, to welfare-to-work case managers, following the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 (PRWORA). Understanding battered women's decision-making process regarding self-disclosure of abuse histories and obtaining their expert advice in how to provide circumstances in which they felt safe about disclosing was a goal of this study. Each participant was interviewed privately by the author or an assistant. A strong relationship between welfare recipients and a history of domestic violence has long been demonstrated. However, it was found that battered women faced circumstances that impeded their compliance with the PRWORA requirements, including post-traumatic stress, instability and lack of equilibrium in their lives and that of their children, stalking by perpetrators at their work place, and release by the government of their addresses to the perpetrators thus endangering their safety. Findings within four major categories included some negative assessments: situational factors of choice issues about disclosure, for example, explaining their change in or lack of home address; experiences applying for support services, for example, judgmental attitudes or a complex system unresponsive to immediate and emergency needs; expectations of caseworkers and self, for example, to be able to be timely when dealing with public transportation while pregnant and carrying along a 1-year old child; and suggestions given by these women for improved services, such as timely Medicaid and food stamps being provided on an emergency basis. It was concluded that battered women expected and were prepared to disclose but felt the need to maintain control over how much they disclosed to case workers. They expected caseworkers' sensitivity and relational skills to be high on the issue of domestic abuse and recommended close collaboration between welfare departments and domestic abuse workers as essential to effecting this result. References


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