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“Domestic Violence: Does Reconciliation Deliver Justice?” - by Assia Buono

Definition and Types of Domestic Violence

It is often thought that domestic violence is physical, and hence, visible

(Stewart et al, 2013). This is limiting the potential scope of ’abuse’, which includes:

  • verbal (name calling)

  • control (manipulation, coercive control)

  • social (restricting access to friends or family, not allowing contact with others)

  • financial (impeding the victim to work and have access to money).

Red Shoes as a symbol of Gender Based Violence

Mexican artist Elina Chauvet started a protest displaying red shoes ‘zapatos rojos’ in

the street, representing the absence of the women who lost their life to femicide.

Mexican femicide rates are astonishing, in 2018 alone there were 3,662 killings of

women (Sanchez, E., Rodriguez, L., 2020).

The shoes represent the freedom of leaving the relationship, and red the blood and love

spilled. However, that freedom is often restricted...

The Impact of Financial Control

Economic control creates for the victim to be dependent on her abuser. One of the most

unseen and limiting kinds of abuse, affects 94% of intimate partner violence, and

sabotages employment conditions and opportunities (Postmus et al 2011).

These are psychologically straining conditions which impact a member of society in a

long-term capacity.

The Intersectionality of Victims

Relationship violence can affect anyone. However, the chances of leaving an

abusive relationship lessens if the victim has pre-existing disadvantaged

conditions. Poverty lack of housing, ethnic minority. These are all factors which

compared to a more advantaged victim, can result in longer stay in the

relationship (49% of participants in Postmus et al 2011’s study earned less than

10,000 USD annually).

An Irish Perspective

1 in 5 women vs 1 in 17 men experience domestic abuse in Ireland.

50% of victims feel safer in work than at home.

2 out of 3 leave work because of domestic violence.

What has been done: Domestic Violence Bill 2017, shifted the cultural perception

of domestic violence as purely ‘physical‘ and part of a relationship ‘just a slap’.

Up to 5 years incarceration for the abuser, the bill includes psychological abuse,

coercive control which is the highest predicting factor in murders of women by

their partners: from the UK Domestic Homicide data, coercive control was the

consistent factor 93% of the time, in relationships that terminated in femicide

(Meets, R. Sheridan, K. Et al, 2017).

Reconciliation: A Response to The Problem & its barriers

Attempts to solve domestic violence has resulted in the process of reconciling victims

with abusers. After dangerous attacks, victims take place in women shelters and the

social workers host workshops focusing on re-building the relationship. It happens in

north African and Asian countries like Uganda (Polavarapu, A. 2019) and Cambodia

(Brickell, K. 2015). This ‘restorative justice method’ is implemented as a direct response to the incarceration method adopted in Western countries (the abuser being prosecuted).

A potential problem of this method is that it allows offenders to re-offend, hence victims

still being at risk.

Prosecution of the Offender: A Response to The Problem &


The Western approach in response to abuse cases is prosecution of the offender. Every country has a different incarceration period, however, what they all have in common is barring orders? This enforces offenders to be within a distance of victims, and if that is breached, they can be imprisoned (Henning, K., Feder, L., 2005). This view has been approached as too dependent on the criminal system, and not allowing for change and rehabilitation of the relationship structure (Polavarapu, A. 2019).

My thesis: Reconciliation doesn’t work

Reconciliation depends on the rehabilitation of the offender to work. The problem

encountered here is that femicide continues because of women staying in these toxic

and abusive relationship. Once a way out is found, a lot of victims end up going back to

their partners for a number of reasons (lacking financial independence, housing,

low-self-esteem). But looking closely at these issues, they come exactly from the

abuser’s controlling behaviour (financially controlling, verbally abusing). This is a

social phenomenon and the evidence is clear. 67-80% of femicides were preceded by

physical abuse (Campbell, J. Et al, 2003). Those relationships are damaging and the

offender needs to take responsibility and serve his time.

My solution: Personal development of the victims

By looking at the social facts, women in more privileged circumstances (economic independence, stable housing) have a higher chance of success after a toxic relationship.

The solution I propose is to focus on expanding resources for the victims. In women’s shelters after a woman experiences an attack, the adoption of training for jobs and

upskilling, “support groups, legal advocacy, shelter, or transitional housing” will be valuable while recovering. Their chances of employment will increase exponentially, causing them to not return to their abuser since it’s not the ‘only option’ anymore. Victim focused resources allow for the cycle of abuse to cease (Sullivan, C. 2017).


Domestic abuse comes in different forms, it’s important to be aware of the

different types so that it can be identified. There are problems with both frameworks for change (Reconciliation & Prosecution). Resources for victims allows for self-development and ability to be autonomous and independent. Supports give women the freedom to walk away from their tragedies, and out of victims creates survivors.


Brickell, K. (2015), Towards intimate geographies of peace? Local reconciliation of domestic violence in Cambodia. Trans Inst Br Geogr, 40: 321-333. doi:10.1111/tran.12086

Campbell, JC, Webster D, Koziol-McLain J, et al. Risk factors for femicide in abusive relationships: results from a multisite case control study. Am J Public Health.

2003;93(7):1089–1097. doi:10.2105/ajph.93.7.1089 Henning, K., & Feder, L. (2005). Criminal Prosecution of Domestic Violence Offenses: An Investigation of Factors Predictive of Court Outcomes. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 32(6), 612–642. Meets, R., Sheridan, K., Kelleher, C., Gleeson, C., Bacik, I.(2017). Ep 173 Understanding the Domestic Violence Bill 2017. The Irish Times Women’s Podcast. The Irish Times: Ireland. Polavarapu, A. Global Carceral Feminism and Domestic Violence: What the West Can Learn from Reconciliation in Uganda. Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, [s. l.], v. 42, n. 1, p. 123–175, 2019. URL:

e&scope=site. Postmus, J. L., Plummer, S.-B., McMahon, S., Murshid, N. S., & Kim, M. S. (2012).

Understanding Economic Abuse in the Lives of Survivors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(3), 411–430.

Sanchez, E., Rodriguez, L. (2020). Women in Mexico City Rallied Against Femicide With Hundreds of Red Shoes. Global Citizen. Global Citizen Org.

Stewart, C. C., Langan, D., & Hannem, S. (2013). Victim Experiences and Perspectives on Police Responses to Verbal Violence in Domestic Settings. Feminist Criminology, 8(4), 269–294. Sullivan, C.M. Understanding How Domestic Violence Support Services Promote Survivor Well-being: A Conceptual Model. J Fam Viol 33, 123–131 (2018).

"This artist’s red shoes stand in for all the women lost to violence" Editor’s note: This story contains graphic details of violence.

Elina Chauvet’s red shoes are worldly. They’ve been in Milan, Italy, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Not just one pair, but hundreds — red boots, red heels, red toddler shoes. They’re not there to see the sights, but to take up space. Especially when the women or girls who would have worn them no longer take up any space, except in the lives of their loved ones.

For more than a decade, Chauvet has staged her “Los Zapatos Rojos” installation in cities around the world. In January, the 60-year-old Mexican artist helped activists paint 300 shoes red and laid them out in pairs in an open, public place: inside Mexico City’s historic square. Some of the pairs — four of them — had once belonged to women who had been victims of gender-based deadly violence. To mark their absence, two mothers had personally painted and placed their daughters’ shoes inside the plaza. .... " News Article By —

Joshua Barajas Read More Here

Thank you for reading our volunteer blog authors contribution to -'We Hear You- The W.H.Y. Campaign, a grassroots global initiative that started out of the lockdowns in Melbourne 2020, to raise public awareness of DFV victims unsafe in their own homes with their perpetrators. We would appreciate your feedback and if you liked this or our other blogs, please write a recommendation or thank you email to be forwarded to our blog writers. Gratitude in advance, Founder: Caroline Mc Guinness & Team Email:

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