ARTICLE: Representation of Domestic Violence Survivors as a New Paradigm of Poverty Law: In Search of Access, Connection, and Voice Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1995 The George Washington Law Review
The George Washington Law Review

ARTICLE: Representation of Domestic Violence Survivors as a New Paradigm of Poverty Law: In Search of Access, Connection, and Voice

August, 1995

63 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1071


Peter Margulies *


Domestic violence is almost invisible in poverty law and lawyering. Although individual legal services lawyers have made substantial contributions to work against domestic violence, legal services programs have determined priorities through a skewed triage system that neglects domestic violence issues. In addition, traditional poverty scholars have ignored how domestic violence exacerbates poverty and causes homelessness. Rather than integrating domestic violence issues into a richer conception of poverty law, traditional scholars have marginalized domestic violence into the gendered ghetto of family law and the exotica of criminal law defenses. 1

This Article argues that the neglect of domestic violence in poverty law and lawyering stems from two false dichotomies. 2 Poverty theory and substantive poverty law have been dominated by the public/private dichotomy. This dichotomy, as it appeared in the still-influential "New Left" poverty scholarship of the 1960s and 1970s, ignored gender issues as "private" concerns, and focused attention on government arbitrariness in administering public benefits programs. 3 Feminist scholars have long targeted the public/private dichotomy because it consigns issues such as gender inequity within the family to an inferior status. 4 The separation of public and private spheres, however, persists in the work of currently active New Left scholars such as Michael Katz, as a counter to the intrusive, judgmental morals supervision that has characterized much antipoverty policy for centuries, up to the present day with our concern about teenage pregnancy and "family values." 5

Although the public/private dichotomy has dominated New Left ...
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