Weitzman, Susan 1958(?)-
WEITZMAN, Susan 1958(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1958; married Richard Goldwasser. Education: Loyola University, Ph.D. (clinical social work).
ADDRESSES: Home—Chicago, IL. Office—Weitzman Center, 203 N. Wabash Ave., Ste. 2000, Chicago, IL 60601.
CAREER: Psychotherapist and educator. University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, worked for twelve years as staff member of department of adult outpatient psychiatry, lecturer at school of social service administration; Loyola University, Chicago, lecturer. Weitzman Center, Chicago, founder and president.
AWARDS, HONORS: Social Worker of the Year, Illinois, 2002.
"Not to People like Us": Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: Susan Weitzman is a practicing clinical psychotherapist whose practice focuses heavily on helping battered women who come from upscale, wealthy, professional families, defying the stereotypical class assumptions common to domestic violence. Weitzman first encountered this problem in the 1990s while she was working toward her doctorate in clinical social work at Chicago's Loyola University. A patient she had been working with for some time who appeared merely depressed with some communication problems within her marriage suddenly revealed that she was being beaten. The woman was well educated and married to a successful sociologist. Her admission forced Weitzman to reevaluate not only her standards of diagnosis, but also many of the standard assumptions she had made about violent behavior in a marriage. She consequently founded the Weitzman Center, which focuses on helping women who are suffering from domestic abuse, and went on to write "Not to People like Us": Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages, which takes a closer look at the problem and includes a number of case studies.
"Not to People like Us" focuses on dispelling the myth that only underprivileged women remain in abusive relationships. The common belief is that a woman only stays with an abusive husband because she is trapped by financial considerations and cannot afford to leave. In reality, the low self-esteem that is fostered by such a relationship is what keeps a wife from leaving a violent marriage. In an interview with People, Weitzman stated that "there's a need for more research, but if my practice and research reflect anything, it's that upscale abuse is out there in huge numbers. In my practice, more than 60 percent of the women I see have suffered or are now suffering upscale spousal abuse." She went on to explain that the fact that the men in these relationships are successful and prominent is frequently a factor in the abuse, and in keeping the women from seeking help. "With upscale abuse, the men tend to have a sense of entitlement and believe they are above the law."
Writing for the American Journal of Sociology, Kristin L. Anderson found fault with Weitzman's approach, stating that, "instead of examining the influence of class privilege on women's choices and experiences, Weitzman makes a contradictory and unsupported 'reverse discrimination' argument." However, Karen E. Muench, in a review for Feminist Collections, found the book "both informative and personal," noting that the volume's "practical appendices help readers identify abuse, traits of an abuser, and early warning signs and list extensive resources." A contributor to Publishers Weekly felt that the book offers "excellent practical advice for these women to make choices that extricate them from abuse." Weitzman herself pointed out in her interview with People "that staying in an abusive marriage has grave costs—all of a woman's material possessions could never make up for the danger and degradation. There are women who lived in mansions and now live in one-bedroom apartments, but they got their lives back."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Journal of Sociology, September, 2001, Kristin L. Anderson, review of "Not to People like Us": Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages, p. 543.
Booklist, September 15, 2000, Vanessa Bush, review of "Not to People like Us," p. 194.
Feminist Collections, winter, 2002, Karen E. Muench, review of "Not to People like Us," p. 5.
People, July 2, 2001, "Painfully Privileged: Dr. Susan Weitzman Finds that Spousal Abuse Cuts across All Lines," p. 139.
Publishers Weekly, October 23, 2000, review of "Not to People like Us," p. 73.
Not to People like Us Web site, http://www.nottopeoplelikeus.com/ (June 22, 2005).
Weitzman Center Web site, http://www.theweitzmancenter.org/ (June 22, 2005).