One Woman's Story about Domestic Abuse and Justice ; the Recent Granting of Clemency to Linda White Shows How Attitudes Have Changed

By Alexandra Marks writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, January 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

One Woman's Story about Domestic Abuse and Justice ; the Recent Granting of Clemency to Linda White Shows How Attitudes Have Changed


Alexandra Marks writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Linda White turns her wrist over and touches the half a dozen or so thin scars on her forearm.

"You can still see them," she says, sounding almost surprised. "That was from one of the times he tied me up. He also cut me."

"He" is her former boyfriend. A man named John Strouble. In 1989, after a year of severe psychological and physical abuse, Ms. White fatally shot him.

She used his gun - one that she says he routinely shot out the window, then put to her head to let her know he could and would kill her.

White pleaded self-defense, but was convicted of second-degree murder and was given 17 years to life in prison. But after serving more than 12 years, she has been granted clemency by New York Gov. George Pataki.

Like all stories about battering and abuse, hers is complicated. But it also provides a lens to illustrate the strides made as well as the setbacks within the nation's criminal justice system in its dealings with battered women over the past 20 years.

There are now hundreds of domestic-abuse hot lines and battered- women's shelters. And there have been major reforms in the criminal justice system, from special training for police to the establishment of protection orders in the courts.

But experts say that even as those advances raised public awareness and helped thousands of individuals, their effectiveness remains spotty. And they've also had an unintended consequence: Experts say they've fueled a backlash that makes it more difficult for women like Linda White to successfully plead self-defense.

"People had hoped that all of the interventions would make police and prosecutors and judges more savvy about what happens to battered women in violent relationships," says Holly Maguigan, a professor of political law at New York University. "But it is still very hard for people to understand that a woman like Linda White who uses serious force may be reasonable and justified."

By the numbers

During the 1990s, reported domestic violence dropped, although not as precipitously as the overall crime rate. In fact, Justice Department statistics tell a surprising story about the impact of increased awareness and services: They may have saved more men's lives than women's.

In 1976, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1,357 men and 1,600 women were killed in what the FBI refers to as "intimate partner" homicides. By 1999, the number of men killed by spouses, former spouses, or girlfriends had declined to 424, a drop of 69 percent. But the number of women killed decreased to only 1,218, a drop of just 24 percent.

Experts believe that's because shelters and hot lines have given women with access to them the ability to leave before they reach a breaking point. But abusive men do not have similar resources at their disposal. And studies still show that it is when an abused woman decides to leave that her batterer is the most likely to kill her.

"Women tend to kill when they're defending themselves, and the increased services have helped give women with access to them other options," says Sue Osthoff, director of the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women. "But men haven't really changed that much."

A characteristic case

Linda White is an example of a woman who tried to leave but says she couldn't for fear of her life. Her interactions with the social- service system also exemplify the advances, as well as the huge gaps that remain in providing help to battered women.

To start, she says she'd never heard of a "battered woman" syndrome when she met Mr. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

One Woman's Story about Domestic Abuse and Justice ; the Recent Granting of Clemency to Linda White Shows How Attitudes Have Changed
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.