Essay on Violence Against Women Act of 1994

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For centuries domestic violence has been perceived as a private matter private of which the government has not been concerned about nor was it considered the government’s business to intervene on behalf of a battered spouse. The unlawful nature of this failure for state or federal government intervention against this crime contributed to the systematic abuse of women in the family. The traditions, customs, and common law found in both British and American societies continued right up until the last decade of the 20th century and left the battered wives and very frequently, her children, at the mercy of the husband. It wasn’t until the 1990’s when the government began to do something to protect mothers, wives, and lovers from intimate partner violence (Ball, 2002). The Violence against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) provided a definite marker for both governmental and societal change in the United States. Intimate partner and domestic violence has been a part of our culture for hundreds of years. To gain a full understanding of domestic violence in our society and how it history has shaped the treatment of abuse today, it is important to learn about the historical progression of domestic violence.
During the founding of the American colonies English laws permitted wife beating through the incorporation of the Blackstonian concept of “subtle chastisement.” It was under this doctrine that husbands had the right to beat their wives and was limited only by the “same moderation that a man is allowed to correct his apprentices and children” (Ball, 2002). According to Dryden-Edwards MD (2012), British common law once allowed a man to "chastise" his wife with "any reasonable instrument.” In 1824, Mississippi became the first state to permit wi...

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... as a rights violation. This piece of legislation pulled out domestic violence from the shadows of the private sphere and into the light of the public sphere and recognized it as worthy of state action. According to Roleff (2000), “when it comes to family violence, most police officers do not make arrests, most persecutors do not press charges, and most judges do not impose tough enough sentences and the women and children at risk go unprotected.” American societies’ view of the private nature of domestic violence was changing and along with it came consequences for perpetrators of violence. These statements continue to hold true even in today’s society. We often regress into the historical tendency of viewing violence against women as intrinsically private and therefore undeserving of government attention, leaving millions of women and children in harm’s way.

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