Source: (2000) British Journal of Criminology. 40(1): 14-36Many women do not seek criminal sanctions because sanctions are unlikely to help end the violence. This calls into question the value, to victims, of mandatory arrest policies that require prosecution decisions to be based on evidential concerns alone. The article argues that these are naive assumptions about the interests of victims. Policies that give effect to victim preferences are also naive in ignoring the circumstances that shape victim preferences. The article calls for an approach that would empower victims to make choices that are less coerced (by their circumstances) than is usual at present. Even under a victim empowerment model, prosecution would remain frequently counterproductive. All it does is apply a legal sanction, usually a weak one, as if that were a solution. However, the victim empowerment approach would employ pro-arrest (but not pro-charge) policies as a way of bringing a full range of social and legal forces to bear on domestic violence problems. The role of legal sanctions would vary from central to marginal to completely irrelevant according to the circumstances of individual victims. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.