Motivations, opportunities and constraints: voluntary labour in women’s refuges and crisis centres

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The feminist movement of the 1960s and '70s made the claim that 'the personal is political' and demanded a re-examination of women's daily lives. More specifically where violence was concerned, the movement demanded that domestic violence no longer be considered something that women were responsible for, and that rape and sexual assault no longer be viewed as a sex crime with women partly to blame (Amir, 1971). Rather, the women's movement asserted that power was a central issue in violence against women and that sexual and domestic violence both reflect and determine gendered social structures. The distinction between the public and the private was challenged as well as the conduct of agencies in relation to sexual assault survivors and the reluctance of state agencies to intervene in 'domestic' situations. The movement aimed to have the under-reporting and high prevalence of male violence against women recognised, along with the acknowledgement that it can affect women at any stage of their lives and take many forms including: physical; psychological; economic; and/or sexual abuse. Overall, the aim was to have violence redefined as an issue of power that is both caused by and perpetuates gender inequality, recognising its systemic nature and pervasiveness and working to achieve an end to this violence. The feminist response took two forms: political campaigning and alternative welfare provision in the form of refuges and crisis centres.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-89
Number of pages12
JournalMeddelanden från Socialhögskolan
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • domestic violence
  • refuges
  • crisis centres
  • feminist movement


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