“I've Slept in Clothes Long Enough”: Excavating the Sounds of Domestic Violence Among Women in the White Working Class

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Abstract

Here we listen to and analyze the voices of poor and working-class white women in Buffalo and Jersey City as they chronicle histories related to domestic violence. Although it was initially quite easy to distinguish between women living in what others have called “hard living” and “settled living” domestic scenes, we found that the amount of violence in these homes did not differ appreciably. Rather almost all of the poor and working-class white women and their families were negotiating lives disrupted by an inhospitable economy, and almost all of the women interviewed were also surviving within scenes of domestic violence that spanned generations. The distinction between the “settled lives” women and the “hard living” women may only be determined by whether or not the woman has exited from her violent home. School-related programs designed to promote discussion of these issues are considered.

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