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Restorative Justice and Violence Against Women

Edited by James Ptacek

Publication Date - 16 November 2009

ISBN: 9780195335484

312 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

This volume presents a much-needed analysis of restorative justice practices in cases of violence against women.


Despite significant accomplishments over the past 35 years, antiviolence activists know that justice for most abused women remains elusive. Most victims do not call the police or seek help from the courts, making it crucial to identify new ways for survivors to find justice. This path-breaking book examines new justice practices for victims that are being used in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. These informal, dialogue-based practices, referred to as "restorative justice," seek to decrease the role of the state in responding to crime, and increase the involvement of communities in meeting the needs of victims and offenders. Restorative justice is most commonly used to address youth crimes and is generally not recommended or disallowed for cases of rape, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse. Nevertheless, restorative practices are beginning to be used to address violent crime.

Restorative Justice and Violence Against Women considers both the dangers and potential benefits of using restorative justice in response to these crimes. The contributors include antiviolence activists and scholars from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Some are strongly in favor of using restorative practices in these cases, some are strongly opposed, and many lie somewhere in between. Their chapters introduce a range of perspectives on alternative justice practices, offering rich descriptions of new programs that combine restorative justice with feminist antiviolence approaches.

Controversial and forward-thinking, this volume presents a much-needed analysis of restorative justice practices in cases of violence against women. Advocates, community activists, and scholars will find the theoretical perspectives and vivid case descriptions presented here to be invaluable tools for creating new ways for abused women to find justice.


  • Addresses violence against women using restorative justice theory and feminist principles
  • Chapters by scholars as well as activists illustrate innovative restorative justice programs in action
  • Examines new ways for victims of violence to find justice in their communities

About the Author(s)

James Ptacek has been working on the problem of men's violence against women for over twenty-five years. He has pursued this work in a variety of roles: as a batterers' counselor; a researcher; a teacher; and a trainer on institutional responses to domestic violence. His research has focused on how men who batter account for their violence; rape and battering on college campuses; and battered women's experiences seeking help from the courts. His current work addresses the class dimensions of intimate violence, and applications of restorative justice to violence against women and children.


"This is the right book at the right time! The current political climate offers the best hope we have had in years for developing real alternatives to the crime-centered approach to violence against women that has become the norm. Laying out what those alternatives might look like, while offering important warnings about their limitations, Ptacek has tapped some of the most thoughtful scholars and activists to provide an explicitly feminist analysis of the use of RJ and other new anti-violence strategies in response to violence against women. The result is a book that demonstrates the importance of race, immigration status, and class in understanding women's experiences of violence and in developing the responses that are necessary to stop the violence. This book is a must-read for violence against women scholars and activists, for community organizers concerned with broad issues of racial and gender justice, and for RJ proponents."--Donna Coker, J.D., Professor of Law, University of Miami

"James Ptacek has assembled some of the most progressive, experienced voices in the movement to end violence against women. These essays are unsentimental explorations of the possibilities for crafting transformative organizing models that confront not only individual violence, but the context of violent oppression. The scope is global but the strategies are grounded in the everyday experiences of women. Anyone who seeks a realistic, invigorated approach to social justice without sacrificing women's safety should read this hopeful book."--Kathleen J. Ferraro, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Northern Arizona University

"Restorative justice poses a profoundly important, though controversial, challenge to the domestic violence movement and to feminism more broadly. Chapter authors do not shy away from the big questions, such as how we balance offender accountability and victim safety. Is restoration enough, or does justice require redemption and liberation? Where does (and can) justice happen? How should our responses address the racism, colonialism, poverty, and heterosexism that undergird gendered violence? This compelling book will inspire new thinking, new research, and new action for victims, offenders, and communities."--Lisa Goodman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology, Boston College

"This collection of articles on RJ and the spectrum of contributors and perspectives is worthwhile reading for scholars, students, practitioners and activists...This book makes us think and encourages us to engage in conversations that can bring about diverse and meaningful ways to address violence against women." --Contemporary Sociology

"...the book is well balanced in that it offers the reader both critiques and support for restorative justice practices with cases of interpersonal violence....this book is an excellent tool for both the novice and the expert in the fields of interpersonal violence and restorative justice." --Criminal Justice Policy Review

"...it presents important academic and political analyses of the issues and practical examples of new ways of approaching that elusive goal of justice." --Times Higher Education

"Anyone interested in family violence should read this book and consider the concepts proposed by this perspective." --Choice

Table of Contents

    Part I. Overview: Restorative Justice and Feminist Activism

    1. Resisting Co-Optation: Three Feminist Challenges to Anti-Violence Work, James Ptacek

    Part II. Critical Perspectives on Restorative Justice in Cases of Violence Against Women

    2. The Role of Restorative Justice in the Battered Women's Movement, Loretta Frederick and Kristine C. Lizdas

    3. At Cross Roads or Cross Purposes?: Aboriginal Women and Political Pursuit in Canadian Sentencing Circles, Rashmi Goel

    4. A Community of One's Own?: When Women Speak to Power About Restorative Justice, Pamela Rubin

    5. Restorative Justice, Gendered Violence, and Indigenous Women, Julie Stubbs

    6. Restorative Justice for Domestic and Family Violence:Hopes and Fears of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australian Women, Heather Nancarrow

    7. Restorative Justice and Youth Violence Toward Parents, Kathleen Daly and Heather Nancarrow

    Part III. From Critique to New Possibilities: Innovative Feminist Projects

    8. Opening Conversations Across Cultural, Gender, and Generational Divides: Family and Community Engagement to Stop Violence Against Women and Children, Joan Pennell and Mimi Kim

    9. Alternative Interventions to Intimate Violence: Defining Political and Pragmatic Challenges, Mimi Kim

    10. Restorative Justice for Acquaintance Rape and Misdemeanor Sex Crimes, Mary P. Koss

    11. Restorative Justice and Gendered Violence in New Zealand: A Glimmer of Hope, Shirley Jülich

    12. Beyond Restorative Justice: Radical Organizing Against Violence, Andrea Smith

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