Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Seo Young Park

Reader 2

Tracy Fisher

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Rights Information

© 2015 Claire R. Shum


This project explores domestic violence advocacy in California by tracing historical, social, and cultural influences; examining the limit of the law and bias of those who uphold it; and analyzing a local domestic violence agency that provides services to survivors. Through the frameworks of anti-essentialization, and intersectionality I analyze gender roles and stereotypes ingrained in our culture. The essentialization of what it is to be a women renders women’s differences invisible, making it difficult for law and policy to address. By looking at domestic violence through an intersectional lens, the multi-layered nature women’s experiences can be revealed. However, not all laws and policies reflect this intersectional viewpoint which limits their effectiveness. The law can also be limited by those who enforce and interpret it. Those within law enforcement and the justice system are not immune to the stereotypes, and assumptions of the culture we live in. I use several women’s stories as well as advocate interviews to demonstrate the bias or attitude of indifference that can be held by law enforcement and the court system. The advocates who work closely with survivors of domestic violence use a client-centered approach to advocacy. This affirms the client’s ability and right to make her own decisions. The advocates partner the use of boundaries and self-care with this client-centered approach in order to best serve their clients.