James Ptacek, PhD

Professor Emeritus, Sociology & Criminal Justice

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Personal Statement

Professor Ptacek has been working on the problem of violence against women since 1981. He has been a batterers’ counselor and has conducted training on domestic violence intervention for hospital, mental health, and criminal justice professionals. He has done research on men who batter; on rape and battering on college campuses; and on battered women’s experience with the courts. His 2010 edited book Restorative Justice and Violence Against Women (Oxford University Press) explores new and controversial ways that communities are responding to violence in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. His current research examines the class dimensions of intimate violence. His 2023 book is entitled Feeling Trapped: Social Class and Violence Against Women. This work is based on in-depth interviews with 60 women from poor, working-class, professional, and wealthy communities. All were abused by men in intimate relationships. This study investigates how social class shapes both women’s experience of violence and the responses of their communities to this violence.


  • PhD, Brandeis University
  • MA, University of New Hampshire
  • BA, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Research Interests

  • Masculinity and violence
  • Legal responses to intimate violence
  • Feminist organizing around violence
  • Restorative justice and other alternative responses to violence against women
  • Class, race, gender, and justice
  • The sociology of emotions

Employment History

  • 2011-2021
    Professor, Department of Sociology, Master's Program in Crime and Justice Studies, Suffolk University
  • 2001-2011
    Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Master’s Program in Crime and Justice Studies, Suffolk University
  • 1996-2000
    Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Master’s Program in Criminal Justice, Suffolk University
  • 1993-1996
    Assistant Professor, Part Time, Department of Sociology, Tufts University
  • 1994-1995
    Lecturer in Women’s Studies, Brandeis University


  • Feeling Trapped: Social Class and Violence Against Women. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2023.

  • “Hidden Dramas of Masculinity: Women’s Perspectives on Intimate Violence in Different Social Classes.” Forthcoming in Violence Against Women. 27 (5) (2021): 666-687.

  • “Research on Restorative Justice in Cases of Intimate Partner Violence.”  In Claire Renzetti, Diane Follingstad, and Ann Coker (Eds.), Preventing Intimate Partner Violence: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Bristol, UK: Policy Press, September 15, 2017: pp. 159-184.

  • “Rape and the Continuum of Sexual Abuse in Intimate Relationships:  Interviews with US Women from Different Social Classes.”  In Kersti Yllö and Gabriela Torres (Eds.), Marital Rape: Consent, Marriage and Social Change in Global Context, New York: Oxford University Press, June 6, 2016, pp. 123-138.

  • “Restorative Justice.” In Susan Miller, Angela Gover, and Claire Renzetti (Eds.), The Routledge International Handbook of Crime and Gender Studies. New York: Routledge, pp. 226-228.

  • Editor, Restorative Justice and Violence Against Women.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.