The increasing reliance in the United States on state-community partner- ships to address social problems represents both new opportunities and new dangers. This article presents examples of both possibilities through a consideration of contemporary collaborations between state and nonstate actors in the development of a public response to domestic violence. This discussion provides the basis for an elaboration of a conceptual approach to public/private relationships that replaces the traditional dichotomy with a triangular relationship, of state, family and community. By improving on our ability to think through the complex relationships between these three spheres, it is argued that this model that can assist those who are committed to pursuing the positive potential of community-state partnerships while avoiding their dangers. John Braithwaite's theory of responsive regulation, and the regulatory pyramid that structures its operation, is discussed in terms of its ability to provide additional insights into the relationship between formal and informal responses to social problems.