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Hounded Women: The IPV Protocol and the Autonomy of Abuse Victims

  • Maud Faïle Gauthier-Chung EMAIL logo


In the early 90s, many jurisdictions adopted a special protocol in an effort to stop and punish intimate partner abuse. This article focuses on the particular form this policy has taken in the New York County jurisdiction, as it is a source of deep disagreement among feminists. In this article, I explore this disagreement in order to demonstrate two things. First, that like many other contentious issues, this controversy revolves around the question of how oppressed individuals’ autonomy should be conceived. Second, that a structural understanding of autonomy, such as the one pioneered by the philosopher Joseph Raz, can be of great use to resolve disagreements on this protocol. I offer an interpretation of his account which enables us to acknowledge the agency of ‘hounded women’ while legitimizing interventions aimed at eradicating the coercion they are victims of.


I would like to thank Anne Phillips, Natalie Stoljar, Christopher Mills, and Vincent Grondin for their useful comments on earlier versions of this paper.


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Published Online: 2017-06-13
Published in Print: 2017-06-27

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