Women's use of force: Voices of women arrested for domestic violence

Susan L. Miller, Michelle L. Meloy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Following changes in law enforcement policies that encourage or mandate arrest of domestic violence offenders, a concomitant increase in women arrested and mandated to hatterer treatment programs has resulted. Most research findings, however, suggest that heterosexual intimate violence is gendered, with abuse, power, and control wielded by men over their female partners, and that when women use violence, it is typically in self-defense or for nonaggressive reasons. However, few studies have investigated the female batterer treatment programs and the context of the women's use of violence. Using qualitative data collected from observations of three female domestic violence offender programs, this article examines women's interpretations of their violent experiences. In addition, the findings raise policy-level questions about the appropriateness of such programs, weighing the costs and benefits of a criminal justice approach to women's use of force in intimate relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-115
Number of pages27
JournalViolence Against Women
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


  • Treatment groups
  • Violence: Women


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