This text explores the nature of woman abuse and contributes to a key issue for feminist campaigning and theory. The past 25 years of research on "battered" women has focused on the psychological, sociological and political conditions which contribute to violence, and on women's reasons for staying with violent and abusive partners. Drawing on first-hand accounts, the author goes beyond the discourse of "victims" and "survivors" to provide insights into the very specific and multi-faceted nature of the abuses women experience - emotional as well as physical. The author sheds light on both the dynamics of abuse which afford abusers control over women, and the resources and knowledge women draw upon to re-empower themselves. Examining first the nature of abuse and then the issues confronted by a woman after she has left an abusive relationship, Kirkwood finds that women's experiences of society after leaving abusive partners are highly interrelated. She develops the concept of a "web" to explain how the different elements of abuse connect to make up the experiences of abused women.
Catherine Kirkwood has a PhD in Women's Studies from the University of York and currently facilitates support groups for abused and formerly abused women.