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Houston Breakthrough, October 1980
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Houston Breakthrough, October 1980 - Page 21. October 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. May 6, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1588/show/1581.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(October 1980). Houston Breakthrough, October 1980 - Page 21. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1588/show/1581

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, October 1980 - Page 21, October 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed May 6, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1588/show/1581.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, October 1980
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date October 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Title Page 21
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File Name femin_201109_564r.jpg
Transcript thinks, "It could have been worse." We're collecting data over four battering incidents and we're trying to see if it changes over time. Oliveros: Does it change? Walker: The woman gets more passive. Although sometimes there are ups and downs. She'll have sort of a quiescent period, then she'll start defending herself, and, then, she'll get quiet again. It's not a straight line. She starts out with much more shock. It isn't until later that she develops an enormous amount of anger and hostility. The hostility grows as the shock diminishes. We also have found out that battered women develop survival skills, not escape skills. Maybe if you're going to survive you can't escape. Oliveros: I made an interesting observation at the shelter, comparing the volunteers who hadn't been battered with the women who had been battered. A lot of the battered women knew how to fix things-work on cars or repair things around the house. Whereas the other women were really ignorant about things like that. They just said, "Oh, I'll call my husband to come fix this." Walker: I think they're more self-reliant. Although I don't know that I'd say that as a group they are, I haven't got the data to say that. Oliveros: Sometimes I think what attracts a woman to the batterer is her own sense of being powerful. But because she believes in sex role stereotypes, she wants to be the power behind the throne. I really enjoy having power over what happens to me since I've gotten out, and I think I was interested in power even when I was in that, but I had to be the woman behind the man. Walker: Are you saying that women may have difficulty in assuming personal power on their own, and may stay in a relationship even though it's not a good one because it gives them some kind of power? Myers: You're saying that the way you get power, then, is not to have it yourself but to marry it? Walker: Well, that's why the women's movement has been so critical in understanding battering and abusive relationships because the women's movement has said that women can have and should have power on their own. I think that's why we're having so many more women leave abusive relationships, because they're discovering that they can. Myers: I think that's a real important thing. I think men have beaten women because they've realized they can, and now women are leaving because they realize they can. Walker: And that they would even get society's support for leaving. If there's anything we've done, we have made it really okay for a woman to leave a relationship if she's being beaten. Nobody asks "Why didn't you stay longer? Why didn't you try harder?" People are now saying: "Why don't you get out?" Myers: The most fascinating case in your book was the one of Alice, the physician, that got beat up and lost a kidney. Did you ever hear from Alice again? Walker: No, I never heard from her again. You know, that's one of the hardest things when you work with battered women, that you have to accept that it's not your responsibility to save them. And yet you have to be available for them. You have to make it very clear that you know what's going on, you don't approve of it, you support whatever they want to do about it, and that you will be more than willing to be an advocate for Toby Myers is a founder of the Texas Council on Family Violence. Burnet Oliveros works with the Houston Area Women's Shelter for Abused Women. them in getting help. If you go that far and she says "I want to go back. I don't think he's going to hit me again, but I'm willing to take that chance," you've gotta let her go. And you die because you're so sure that she's going to get hit again, but how can you not do that without taking away this woman's dignity? Myers: I think getting out is a process. . . Oliveros: ... of trying and going back and trying and going back. Walker: And it doesn't matter whether you work that process out before the physical separation or afterwards. You're gonna have to go through that process no matter what. Oliveros: One thing you've talked about is that battered women often underestimate the extent of their injuries. I think it was on 60 minutes - they talked to some person in California who was claiming that they overestimate. Walker: In the years that I have been working on this problem I have never found women who overestimate. In fact, it's much like child abuse cases. Most of the time the women minimize what happens, because if you start dealing with the reality of what's happening you've got to do something about it. It's the psychological mechanism of denial, which just protects you from having to do something before you're ready to do it. When battered women do retaliate, they are their own worst witnesses at trials, particularly at some of the trials I do for assaults or murders, because you want the woman to be able to convince the jury as to why she stayed. And you're convinced, because you understand it, but if she doesn't know how to say what happened to her with impact, then the jury is not going to buy it. Oliveros: One of the really difficult things is that it really is a life and death situation that the woman is in, yet everyone around her is denying the fact that she's in danger of being killed. It's just too dramatic. People can't deal with it, and it's really hard to get people to take you seriously. Walker: I agree with that, but I think it's getting easier to get people to take you seriously. But I still think people cut off battered women when they want to tell their stories, they just don't want to hear. It's too gory. Sometimes people are not helpful to a battered woman. It's because of ignorance, not malevolence. They don't really appreciate the sense of danger she's in. A little bit of help and assistance early on might have averted what's been going on, escalating. Myers: Do you think that when the woman finally kills the man that it goes back to the conflicting or paradoxical thing about control: that she's finally in the ultimate control? Walker: No. I think that the woman does it because somehow somewhere she's made up her mind, "I am not going to take it anymore. I am not going to be hurt again. He has no right to hurt me." And somehow, even if she doesn't say those words, she has that feeling. Once you accept that feeling, and he starts to hurt you again, you strike back. Oliveros: A lot of battered women go around for a long time trying to get someone to make him stop. The police can't make him stop, his mother can't make him stop, nobody can make him stop. She must realize that no one is going to be able to make him stop. Walker: Interestingly, the women I've worked with, when they kill, most of them have used guns. Maybe a knife. Oliveros: No poisons? Walker: No poisons that I know of. No tortures. I mean we've worked with some of the most bizarre cases. We've worked with the case in Kansas where the man built a coffin for the woman and made her try it out for size. He'd put her in the coffin all night with chains. He was going to bury her alive. She killed him before he could do it. Myers: That's bizarre. Walker: But is that any more bizarre than the man who takes you up to the mountains and rapes you, then the next minute is loving and takes you for a walk, then a couple of hours later starts slapping you around? Is it any more bizarre than the man who takes out a gun and points it to his head and says "I'm going to kill myself," and points it at your head and says "I'm going to kill you"? When the women strike back they strike back with a tremendous amount of force. After the first blow almost all of them say some catch words like: "I better get him good because if he gets up he's gonna kill me." Myers: Well, that's what they tell you-l mean, that's what mine told me-"lf you ever hit me back you better make it good because if you don't, you're a dead woman." Walker: One of my interviewers said it was almost like batterers went to the same training school, because they all say such similar things. You'd think that they all knew each other. Oliveros: Sometimes I feel like there's an uneasy truce between men and women. Even men who aren't batterers-sometimes if you talk to them for long you can feel-they have this rage inside against women that they're suppressing. Walker: I believe that you can learn a lot about relationships between men and women by looking at the extremes. I sort of see all relationships on a continuum, with the ideal Utopian egalitarian relationship between a man and a woman on one end and at the other extreme the most violent physically and psychologically abusive relationship you can think about. Relationships can fall anyplace along that continuum. Myers: But not all relationships that aren't egalitarian are violent. Walker: No. But I would say and argue that all relationships that aren't egalitarian fall somewhere on that continuum. And when you get to the normal traditional relationship, I think it goes over the halfway mark, in that there's a lot of coercion involved. It may well be just psychological coercion, but the power base is still unequal. Oliveros: I want to talk about money. You made a very good point: that even when the women are earning the money, the men still control it. I read a book about prostitution, and there seems to be a lot in common between pimps and battering husbands. Walker: I didn't say it, you did. My view of domestic violence and wife abuse is that it's not only violence run amuck (which I think it is, and I think violent behavior is learned behavior), but I also believe that the root of all violence between men and women is the power difference between men and women, and that were there egalitarianism there would be no need for violence. daniel boone cycle 5318 CRAWFORD HOUSTON, TEXAS 77004 (713) 526-7011 OCTOBER 1980 21 »