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In 1995, Kentucky governor Brereton Jones granted parole to ten women who had been convicted of killing, conspiring to kill, or assaulting the men who had abused them for years. The media began referring to them as the "Sisters in Pain," a name they embraced. These are their stories.

L. Elisabeth Beattie and Mary Angela Shaughnessy's interviews of seven of the Sisters in Pain detail the physical, sexual, or psychological abuse they suffered at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends, battery beyond comprehension. Anyone who has ever asked, "Why don't they just leave?" will come to understand the interconnected strands of abuse that make just living through another day a personal triumph.

Beattie and Shaughnessy address the pervasive nature of domestic violence in America and explore the legal ramifications of fighting back. Their interviews with the Sisters in Pain reveal the ways in which these women have picked up the pieces of their shattered lives and learned to face the future.

"Offers the hope that battered women’s stories will be heard and will motivate others to stand up and take action to end domestic violence."—Bowling Green Daily News

"Sure to endure as a crucial but seldom discussed area of concern."—Juith Jennings

"An unflinchingly powerful story of domestic abuse."—Kentucky Monthly

"A work of advocacy. . . . A gripping horror show."—Lexington Herald-Leader

"An impressive compendium of survival."—Louisville Courier Journal

"A book for all women and all men—an education about the horrors of abuse and chances of recovery."—Oakland Press

"A worthy book that gives pause."—Publishers Weekly

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Kentucky, Abused women, Battered women, Wife abuse, Justifiable homicide


Women's Studies

Sisters in Pain: Battered Women Fight Back
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