Battered women in America: An advocacy theory of structural denial

Olivia Kathryn Costakos-Andreacchi, Fordham University


The problem of wife abuse in America is primarily sociogenic. It is principally a structural and only secondarily a medical and/or psychological problem. Further, violence is rooted within the cultural fabric of our society. However, clinical approaches continue to dominate in both theoretical and applied aspects of the problem. Consequently America's leading professionals are ignoring wife abuse as a socio-cultural problem and are actively engaging in a process of structural denial. The concepts of power, denial, and social control are employed to study society's response to battered women. An analysis of selected legislation on victims in Minnesota and New Jersey, along with interviews conducted at three battered women's shelters in New York and New Jersey, were undertaken to determine whether these systems enhance or detract power from the abuse victim. Findings indicate there is a strong need for further research regarding shelter policies as well as additional legislation to further empower the victim of abuse. While addressing the structural or socio-cultural aspects of battering, the study formulates an empirically testable and theoretically relevant model for analysis. The Empowerment Model argues that community based approaches are more viable alternatives to assist battered women towards empowerment.

Subject Area

Womens studies|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Costakos-Andreacchi, Olivia Kathryn, "Battered women in America: An advocacy theory of structural denial" (1991). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9127027.