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Battering, Forgiveness, and Redemption

Smith, Brenda V
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law. 11:921.

In this paper Brenda Smith asks whether words like “forgiveness” and “redemption” have any place in the discourse on battering and domestic violence. As she says, those words have been conspicuously absent from the domestic violence movement. There has been a strong perspective in the movement that some acts are unforgivable (e.g., battering, abuse of children, murder) and that perpetrators of such acts are irredeemable. Taking note of the precepts of many religions and psychological principles, Smith however argues that there is little hope of successful intervention in the lives of those affected by domestic violence if there is no understanding, acknowledgement, and acceptance of principles of forgiveness and redemption. In this context, Smith focuses on the topic of forgiveness in relation to battered women: battered women’s forgiveness of their batterers; and battered women’s process of forgiving themselves for participating in the relationship.


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