Abused Wives Essay Research Paper

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Abused Wives Essay, Research Paper “Every three minutes a woman is raped! Every fifteen seconds a woman is battered! Every six hours a woman is battered to death!” (Mckenzie, Cover) Research indicates that half the women in this country will experience some sort of violence, from a husband or boyfriend, in one form or another and more than one-third are battered repeatedly every year. (Wilson, pg. 8) Domestic violence is often dismissed as a problem that affects only a small group of women, however, as the facts show, the problem is not rare. The term “wife abuse” has many definitions: One of these is the use or threat of physical violence against a partner in a primary relationship. Physical violence is defined as an act that has the potential for physical injury to

occur. According to this definition the abused person does not have to be married to the abuser to qualify as an abused victim. In most states, if a woman does not want to press charges against her husband/boyfriend, the case is dropped. Often a woman will not press charges because she is scared of further abuse and/or economic deprivation for her and her children. (Felder, Victor, pg.20) Wife abuse is not a “private matter”. Its presence undermines society. Furthermore in cases where children are witnessing the abuse, the effects on the children is horrible. Studies show that children who witness wife-abuse are at greater risk for being abused or becoming abusers themselves. “Violence begets Violence” (Straus, Gelles, Steinmetz, pg.97-101) The Attorney General should

prosecute wife-abuse cases with or without the consent of the victim. Throughout history men have been held responsible for their women and children. With that responsibility, men were given power; That is, men historically have had the power to use force to control the behavior of their dependents and were expected to use so-called reasonable force in the exercise of their responsibilities. At times reasonable force included death, and has typically included beatings, and deprivation of food and other resources. (Straus, Gelles, Steinmetz, pg. 9-11) Wife abuse to an extent was the right of a husband. (Okun, pg.2) The laws of chastisement date back to 753 B.C.. This law, also referred to as the “switch-thumb law”, allowed husbands to beat their wives with a rod or stick as

long as its circumference was no larger that a man’s thumb. The rational for this law was that a wife was a man’s possession, (like a cow), and he was responsible for her behavior. Therefore, he had the right to punish and discipline her. (Okun, pg. 2) The Christian Church also played a role in wife abuse. In the Rules of Marriage, by Friar Cherubino of Siena, it states: When you see your wife commit an offense…Scold her sharply, bully and terrify her. And if this still does not work…..take up a stick and beat her soundly, for it is better to punish the body and correct the soul. (Okun, pg.3) This privilege of “correcting” one’s spouse was given only to men. (Okun, pg.3) The right of a man to kill his wife existed until the 1600’s in Russia and even until the

1900’s in some localities. In England, husbands escaped punishment for murdering their wives until the 1800’s. Wives had no right to refuse to have sex with their husbands. In fact there was no such concept as “marital rape” until the 1970’s. (Okun, pg.3-5) In the 1880’s, England enacted several laws in order to protect women. One law established life-threatening beatings as a ground for divorce. Another law prohibited men from keeping their wives under lock and key. Yet another law deemed it illegal for a man to sell his wife into prostitution. (Okun, pg.5) The Constitution of the United States did not address issues regarding spouse relations, except for the fourth amendment which secures the privacy of the home. Thus, it was left up to state legislature to