In this exploratory cross-cultural study, we use interview data from representatives of social service, criminal justice, and policy-making agencies in two capital cities (Washington, D.C.) and Madrid, Spain) to compare responses to domestic violence within each country's sociolegal and cultural context. While both countries have patriarchal structures, there is great difference in the history, funding, development, and participants of the battered women's movement. For instance, in Spain the government determined the appropriate response to domestic violence from the onset, whereas in the United States the power to frame, find, and respond to the issue operated through a more insidious process of state cooptation. In both countries, wider social changes did not result; rather, services were provided as the movements became tied to finding requirements and to satisfying bureaucratic exigencies. Within this context, we analyze respondents' perceptions and interpretations of domestic violence as well as the institutional practices and future strategies proposed for continued social action.