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Why Doesn\u27t She Leave? The Collision of First Amendment Rights and Effective Court Remedies for Victims of Domestic Violence

By Laurie S. Kohn


Despite the persistence of the question, social science literature is replete with reasons why a victim does not or cannot leave a battering relationship. Commonly cited explanations include lack of financial resources; fear of physical retribution; lack of access to information about options for escape; enduring love for the batterer and belief he will change; learned helplessness; and depression. This Article, however, focuses on a pervasive and previously unexamined reason: the victim\u27s fear that the batterer will publicize truthful confidential information that will hurt her. If the victim were to seek the court\u27s protection, most state courts have the authority to prohibit the batterer from divulging the information. Under state law, most judges can issue a domestic violence protection order that includes a restriction on the batterer\u27s speech. But are these restrictions constitutional? This Article examines the potential constitutional barriers to the issuance of this relief

Topics: family violence, freedom of speech, right of privacy, Constitutional Law, Law and Gender
Publisher: Scholarship @ GEORGETOWN LAW
Year: 2001
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