Cover image for Getting out : life stories of women who left abusive men
Getting out : life stories of women who left abusive men
Goetting, Ann.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
ix, 286 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1020 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library HV6626.2 .G65 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Central Library HV6626.2 .G65 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Each year, more than 2.5 million cases of battering are reported in the Unites States, and as many as 2,000 incidents of abuse turn into murder cases. Every month, more than 50,000 women in the United States seek restraining or protection orders. While many books detail distinguishing characteristics of the abusive relationship, few accounts reveal how some women eventually gather the resources and courage to leave.

In a chronicle by turns harrowing and inspiring, Ann Goetting tells how sixteen women finally got away for good. Getting Out recounts not only the stories of their abuse but also the women's life histories leading up to the battering--and the resources they drew upon to escape.

Some of the women here received assistance from compassionate family members--Lee, for instance, secured support from her parents, who scheduled a holiday trip home for her to get her away from her husband, Tony, whose battering had reached life-threatening dimensions as he became progressively more involved with an outlaw motorcycle gang. Others were saved by a network of friends--Israeli-born Netiva married an American and escaped after a group of fellow graduate students helped break down the isolation that held her captive.

As Goetting explains, leaving is a process rather than an event, often marked along the way by reconciliations and resumption of abuse. But as she and her informants suggest, the process invariably extends back to a critical moment when a decision to leave is made. The life-affirming moment may follow a particularly appalling episode of abuse or arrive in a long-repressed recognition of self-worth garnered from a positive experience at work or in the rearing of a child.

Getting Out is a book that some women may read to discover solutions to problems within their own lives and those of people they know. It is also a work that social workers and psychologists who deal with battered women will find singularly informative, and one that will find an audience of readers seeking to understand the lives of women involved with abusive men.

Author Notes

Ann Goetting is professor of sociology at Western Kentucky University. She is the author of Homicide in Families and Other Special Populations and coeditor, with Sarah Fenstermaker, of Individual Voices, Collective Visions: Fifty Years of Women in Sociology.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Thinking Through the Heart
Part I The Privileged Are Not Exempt... Women from every social class are battered even those from moneyed, educated, and politically powerful families
1 Jan: This descendant of pre-Depression Michigan farm real estate money with a doctorate herself, escaped an abusive marriage to a man ambitious beyond his intellect
2 Netiva: This Israeli-born woman married a Jewish-American tourist and relocated to live with him in the United States
Her friendship network was critical to her escape from abuse
Part II Nor Are Children Battering knows no age boundaries; girls can fall prey to it
3 Kimberly: This woman entered her first abusive relationship at age twelve and her abusive marriage during her senior year of high school
Her story links obesity to abuse
4 Jessica: This is the story of a high school homecoming queen who was battered most of her high school career by the school star athlete
Part III A Two-Timing Batterer Men batter the women in their lives differently
This section highlights that reality with the case of a man who concurrently battered his wife and his extramarital lover
5 Rebecca: This Plains Indian woman was battered by her Euroamerican husband
With the divorce she lost custody of her children
6 Emily: This story captures the essence of the "Southern Belle'' mentality where gendered relationships are concerned
This woman endured premarital marital, and extramarital abuse
Part IV Family and Friends to the Rescue Battered women can be liberated by family and friends who support and do not blame them
7 Lee: The wisdom and patience of this woman's parents freed her from her abusive outlaw militia husband
8 Annette: This young Hispanic woman escaped her abuser with the help of her foster family
Part V Faces of Shelter Life Women's shelters are structured and work in different ways to assist escape
9 Sharon: This is the story of a woman who decidedly broke the traditional edict of silence that shackles abused Black women
Her shelter experience is typical
10 Gretchen: An underground shelter system protects this lesbian woman and her four children who remain on the run from state to state from their abuser
Part VI When the System Works Sociopolitical structures other than shelters informal as well as formal, can help battered women leave
11 Raquelle: This is the tale of a Mormon woman abused by a professional athlete
The case and its jury trial drew national media attention
Colorado's mandatory reporting and arrest laws helped liberate her from abuse
12 Lucretia: This woman's life demonstrates the intersection of class race, homosexuality, and abuse
A shelter, in conjunction with food stamps, welfare, and transitional housing programs, allower her and her children to escape
13 Colette: This woman's story includes devastating loss: a mother's suicide and a young daughter's death by accident
Her tiny community mobilized an informal network of donated services to help her leave her abuser
Part VII Legacies of Loss and Death These are stories of women who escaped battering but at significant personal expense or with great loss
14 Blanca: This Puerto Rican-American woman relinquished custody of her child in order to escape her Vietnam veteran husband
15 Judy: As a final gesture of control the husband of this "preacher's kid'' hanged himself where she was certain to discover his remains
16 Freda: This is the story of a homeless African-American mother of five who contracted HIV from her abuser
Afterword: A Message for Battered Women

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