This is a pretty solid rebuttal to Linda Hirshman's piece by Hilzoy. One thing Hilzoy brings to bear here is some actual life experience (which she writes) and I'm generally more swayed by lived narrative than theory. Having said that let me respecfully quibble with something:
It seems fairly clear to me that it is not helpful to battered women to tell them that they should 'take responsibility for their own well-being.' Battered women are not, in general, under the impression that they are not responsible for their actions. On the contrary: while there are exceptions, a lot of battered women I have known tend to believe such things as: that it is their fault that they were beaten. Moreover, most already think that they were stupid to stay. They don't need other people to tell them this, or even to suggest obliquely that they ought to recognize their own "bad choices", any more than an anorexic needs lectures on the dangers of obesity.
We shall immediately reject the idea of blaming any woman for the mere fact of being battered, or saying that any one is responsible for someone else battering them. That isn't being debated here. That said, I think it's worth teasing out the difference between blaming someone, or even blaming yourself, and, as Hilzoy, says taking responsibility for your own well-being.
I don't like the word blame. I don't like the idea of "blaming" women for being battered, nor do I like the idea of "blaming" women for not leaving. Also, as I just said, I don't like the idea of telling battered women that they are "responsible" for some dude deciding to hit them--mostly because they manifestly aren't. A person's decision to strike someone is his decision alone.