In this groundbreaking book, Linda Mills—feminist, scholar, activist, and survivor—challenges the prevailing orthodoxies and maps out a plan to change domestic abuse treatment programs. Drawing on case studies and research from her abuse prevention programs, Mills reveals that intimate abuse is far more complex than we realize, and develops a program for healing that engages everyone caught up in a violent dynamic. Essential reading for therapists, couples, public health experts, and members of the criminal justice system, Violent Partners outlines a breakthrough approach to a major social problem.
Mills, founder of NYU's Center on Violence and Recovery, calls into question how the American legal system deals with domestic violence: mandatory arrest and prosecution, restraining orders and batterer intervention programs. This system, argues Mills, deprives women of choices and provides few options for couples who want to stop the abuse without ending the relationship. In a scrupulously researched book, Mills uses her own experience in a violent relationship and other case studies as she examines the sources of domestic violence, looks microscopically at the complex dynamics between various victims and their abusers and explores new treatments that are proving successful. This last is the book's most valuable part, both for these couples and for policy makers. Mills describes a group therapy program in Virginia and the Healing Circles program she helped develop in 2004. By treating the couple, and even whole families, rather than just the abuser, and by acknowledging that violent couples can help one another in group therapy, these programs have been shown to change the dynamics within violent families.