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The passage of the federal Violence Against Women Act of 2000 (“VAWA II”) marked an important milestone in the evolution of the domestic violence movement. VAWA II created, among other things, a complex system for state and federal funding in all fifty states to provide civil legal assistance to battered women. Its passage completed a process that began in the early 1980s when domestic violence advocates shifted their focus from grass roots efforts to help battered women and their children leave abusive partners to building alliances with government and advocating for legal remedies to assist battered women. This paper looks at the impact of this dramatic shift on both battered women and domestic violence programs. It draws on empirical data examining women's experiences using these new legal remedies to raise some preliminary questions about the broader issue of how well the strategy of “engaging with the state” serves the interests of battered women.



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