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Saving Bernice
Battered Women, Welfare, and Poverty
Jody Raphael

Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law

2000 • 184 pp. 6 x 9"
Criminal Justice / Women's Studies / Sociology

$24.95 Paperback, 978-1-55553-438-7
$21.99 Ebook, 978-1-55553-852-1

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

This is the story of Bernice, a former welfare mother and survivor of domestic violence, and her arduous journey to escape from, and ultimately triumph over, years of battering, poverty, and welfare.

Skillfully interweaving Bernice's own eloquent words about her harrowing abuse with descriptions of other women's similar experiences and a rich synthesis of statistical findings, Jody Raphael demonstrates convincingly that domestic violence and dependence on public assistance are intricately linked. In a work that is sure to stir controversy, she challenges traditional views and stereotypes (conservative and liberal) about welfare recipients, arguing that many poor women are neither lazy nor paralyzed by a "culture of poverty," but instead are trapped by their batterers.

Bernice's ordeals at the hands of her abusive partner -- brutal beatings, violent rapes, threats on her life, stalking, blocked access to birth control, and sabotage of efforts to find a job -- resonate throughout the work. The experiences she relates provide crucial insights into the welfare system and illuminate its failures, successes, and potential in helping women like her.

This disquieting yet inspiring book puts a human face on the heated public policy debate over welfare reform. Above all, it is Bernice's life story and, through her voice, the story of countless other battered women who are isolated in poverty and welfare by the power and control of their abusers.

Other titles by Jody Raphael: Listening to Olivia, Freeing Tammy.

Reviews / Endorsements:

“A must-read for everyone who wishes to end not just welfare, but poverty ‘as we know it.”—Patricia Ireland

Saving Bernice illustrates very clearly how family violence keeps many women in poverty and dependent on welfare. Lessons learned from reading this book should guide the crafting of solutions to help women move from welfare to work without risking their safety.”—Ann Richards

JODY RAPHAEL is Senior Research Fellow, Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center, DePaul University College of Law. Freeing Tammy is the final volume of Raphael’s trilogy about women, poverty, and violence in contemporary Chicago that includes Saving Bernice: Battered Women, Welfare, and Poverty (NUP, 2000) and Listening to Olivia: Violence, Poverty, and Prostitution (NUP, 2004).