Imagine you are sitting in a classroom with 30 women. 10 of those women will be victims of physical and/or sexual violence in their lives. How did this come to be?
Why did I choose this topic?
For this research project, I will be focusing on domestic abuse and violence in America and how it has changed throughout US history, and what
present-day problems still occur. Originally I wanted to focus on gender discrimination, however, I found this to be too broad of a topic, thus, I
narrowed it down to domestic abuse, specifically relating to women. Since President Donald Trump’s presidency, I have felt empowered and inspired
to fight for women’s rights. My personal view on domestic violence was not as developed
before I started this project, however, regarding women’s rights andwomen’s role in society
as a whole, I believe very strongly in many things. It’s extremely exciting to see the
perspective and importance of women grow, however, also quite disappointing in some
ways. One would think that after centuries, we would have it down by now, but women all
around the world still face countless problems. One of which is being used and
manipulated, in other words, objectified. Ultimately I have a new found passion and
interest for this topic, and I have learned a lot.
What is Domestic Violence?
By definition, domestic abuse is a “form of violence expressed by one partner or partners against another partner or partners in the context of an
intimate relationship in the U.S.”(“Domestic Violence in the United States”). Throughout U.S.
History, women have been objectified and looked down upon to do domestic jobs. Before the mid-
1800s, starting in colonial times, the issue arose when “most legal systems viewed wife beating as
a valid exercise of a husband’s authority over his wife”(“Domestic Violence in the United States”).
Women had a more domestically based role in society. This involved caring for the children,
cooking, and cleaning etc.
How and When did this Problem Arise:
(a Timeline of Major Events)
17th – 18th Century:
Starting in the early 17th-18th century, women were not appreciated politically or socially. American settlers based their lifestyle on English Common Laws which primarily stated that the very existence of the spouse is suspended during the marriage, or at least incorporated into “that of her husband’s” (Doyle). Though their influence was often “denigrated,” women participated in various community organizations. During the 1700 and 1800s, wife abuse, or other forms of domestic violence was often encouraged by religious morals and societal expectations. European settlers believed that husbands had the “God-given right to correct” their spouses through physical punishment. During the American Revolution, much progress benefitted white men and the country as a whole while fighting for independence, however, women were still left with little authority. By the end of the 1800s, women gained more command, and laws were passed in several states. Although domestic abuse for women was not at a high, many states still continued to allow this violence, and problems in eras such as the Progressive Era surfaced.
Throughout the late 1800 and 1900s, women were able to be supported and voiced through many associations and organizations, thus being recognized and obtaining an equal role in society. More and more incidents were occurring, and equality was not improving. Again, despite all of the enormous efforts to protect women, crime offenses were still occurring. One would hope that the 1900s brought attention to this terrible issue and the fight for crime against women was being greatly recognized, however, although rates have decreased, the numbers are still concerning.
Today, it is estimated that about 1 in 3 women in the world have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lives (Maishareza). Recently, gun control has been a relevant issue in the US and if a gun ends up in the wrong hands, a partner could be harmed. A 2003 CDC study funded by Congress found “far-reaching impacts of such violence against women and zeroed in on the costs of such violence on everything from medical bills to lost time at work. Using survey data from 1995 — the same year 1,252 women were killed by an intimate partner — the CDC estimated physical abuse against a woman by an intimate partner results in 1.8 million injuries each year, with more than 500,000 of such injuries requiring medical care” (Maishareza). This is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. VAWA has helped many victims, however, as more and more people gain access to a harmful object such as guns, the rates can only potentially increase. Women have earned their respect throughout history and it has been a long journey. Unfortunately, women are still disrespected, even by our own president (Donald Trump) saying remarks such as “you can do anything… grab them by the p****. You can do anything”(Liptak). It just goes to show that women still don’t have the respected they deserve, and although we have many advocating figures, the fight is not over yet.
This is a video about a woman who has an idea of how to end domestic violence and the history of it. Start watching at 4:45 minutes and stop at either 9:45, or continue watching through the end:
(Esta Soler, director. Esta Soler: How We Turned Tide on Domestic Abuse ( Hint the Polaroid Helped). TED Talk, TED Talk, 3 Feb. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li4-1yyrsTI .)
Throughout history, women have been objectified, manipulated and abused. They were never appropriately recognized as significant members of society.
Since, the 21st, however, women stand powerfully and are able to voice themselves and make changes. Events such as the women’s march have shown the
real authority women have gained. Although domestic violence rates have declined since 1993, after multiple laws and organizations were created, women
are still being abused. Many people are advocating to put an end to this, but violent situations usually occur behind closed doors alone, when women are
most vulnerable. There are dozens of ways to prevent abuse. To begin, people have to learn to recognize early signs of an unhealthy relationship. The
sooner one gets out, the safer they are. One organization that I take part in is called OneLove. This is a non-profit organization, that goes around the
country and does a 90-minute workshop that teaches students how to stop a potentially abusive and/or unhealthy relationship. I believe that if more of
the workshops transpire, younger people will be educated enough and prepared
to protect themselves to some extent to improve the next generation. This is a
very effective solution, however, it is difficult to get around to every school in
the country. Another solution I propose is to continue to show strength as a
female community. Though it doesn’t directly solve the issue, this is extremely
successful in drawing attention. By addressing the issue publicly, unity is
expressed and people feel empowered to advocate more. Additionally, I feel that
the domestic violence hotline should be more acknowledged and dependable.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides “highly-trained advocates that are available 24/7/365 to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing
domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship” (National Domestic Violence Hotline). A final
proposition could be to better the Acts and organizations fighting for more protection with more donations and support. Three Violence Against Women
Acts (VAWA), in “1994, 2000, and 2005 have been signed into law by the President to stop domestic violence sexual assault, dating violence, and
stalking” This improved communication and helped government agencies collaborate more. together. It also “created prevention and victim support
programs, and resulted in new punishments for certain violent crimes, which by 2005 resulted in a 51% increase in reporting of domestic violence and
18% increase in National Domestic Violence Hotline calls each year, evidence that as victims become aware of remedies, they break the code of silence”
(“Understanding Abuse”). Ultimately, innocent women cannot continue to be harassed, and domestic violence has to end; thus, by continuing to advocate,
domestic violence rates will continue to decrease, and lives will be saved.
Antoine, Marie Jean. “Feminism in Literature.” Enotes, Teachers College Press, 7 Nov. 2010, www.enotes.com/topics/feminism/critical-essays/women-16th-17th-18th-centuries.
“Domestic Violence in the United States.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Jan. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence_in_the_United_States.
Doyle, Sady. “Why Domestic Violence Is an Economic Issue.” The Nation, The Nation, 20 Sept. 2016, www.thenation.com/article/why-domestic-violence-is-an-economic-issue/.
“Legal History of Women Detailed Timeline.” National Women’s History Project, National Womens History Inc., 25 May 2014, www.nwhp.org/resources/womens-rights-movement/detailed-timeline/.
Liptak, Kevin. “Trump: ‘I’m Totally Opposed to Domestic Violence’.” CNN, Cable News Network, 14 Feb. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/02/14/politics/domestic-violence-donald-trump/index.html.
Maishareza. “The Battle against Domestic Violence in the 21st Century.” Maisha Reza, 9 Sept. 2017, maishareza.com/2017/09/10/the-battle-against-domestic-violence-in-the-21st-century/.
Orloff, Leslye E, and Paige Feldman. “Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.” NIWAP, 12 Feb. 2016, library.niwap.org/wp-content/uploads/Herstory-2016.pdf.
Swanson, Kim. “Crime Against Women – A Brief History of Laws in the US.” Get Inclusive, Get Inclusive Inc. , 28 Mar. 2014, www.getinclusive.com/blog/crime-women-brief-history-laws-us.
Tucker, Holly. “18th Century Domestic Violence.” Wonders & Marvels, 31 July 2009, www.wondersandmarvels.com/2009/03/18th-century-domestic-violence.html.
“Understanding Abuse.” StopAbuse, The Regents of the University of Michigan, 2010, stopabuse.umich.edu/about/understanding.html’.
“Women Suffrage in the Progressive Era – American Memory Timeline- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources.” Library of Congress, USA.gov, 22 Apr. 2008, www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/progress/suffrage/.