most of recorded history, women and children were the property of men. When
women married, ownership was transferred from the father to the husband
the 8th century B.C. the first law of marriage proclaimed by Romulus
in Rom "obliged married women to conform themselves entirely to the temper of
their husbands and the husbands to rule their wives as necessary and
the Middle Ages, priests exhorted their male parishioners to beat their wives
and the wives to kiss the rod that beat them.
the late 15th century, Friar Cherubino wrote the Rules of Marriage,
which included: "When you see your wife commit an offense, don’t rush at her
with insults and violent blows … scold her sharply, bully and terrify her. And
if this still doesn’t work … take up a stick and beat her soundly, for it is
better to punish the body and correct the soul than to damage the soul and
spare the body. Then readily beat her, not in rage but out of charity and
concern for her soul, so that the beating will redound to your merit and her
Common Law held that "by marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law.
That is, the very being of legal existence of the woman is suspended in
Common Law embraced, but limited, a husband’s authority to assault his wife by
adopting the rule of thumb that permitted a man to beat his wife "with a rod
not thicker than his thumb." This law was adopted in the United States.
France, the Napoleonic Code took away all independent status of women.
According to Napoleon: "The husband must possess the absolute power and right
to say to his wife: 'Madam, you shall not go out, you shall not go to the
theater, you shall not receive such and such a person; for the children you
bear shall be mine.'"
1824, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that a husband could administer
moderate chastisement to his wife in cases of emergency.
1871, North Carolina Supreme Court held that a husband had no right to beat his
wife under any circumstances, but law would not intervene if the wife sustained
no permanent injury.
1882, Maryland was the first state to pass a law making wife beating a crime.
origin of rape laws in property
law was to protect the value of virginity of marriageable daughters.
first laws prohibiting rape in marriage were enacted in the 1970s. Oregon was
one of the first states to prohibit it.
the mid-19th century, married women were "incompetent" and could not
sign contracts, own, manage or sell property or bring a lawsuit on the own
the early 20th century, women had no right to their children upon
divorce. Children automatically went to the father or his family.
1967, the state of Maine opened one of the first domestic violence shelters in
the United States.
1968, a Harris poll found that one in five adults approved of slapping one’s
spouse on "appropriate occasions."
the 1970s, the women’s movement advocated a change in laws to protect battered
women, including civil liability of police and local government and legislative
reform mandating arrest of perpetrators and providing emergency civil
1977 Oregon adopted the Family Abuse Prevention Act, a model for the nation.
Recent History of Domestic
In 1980, the African American Planning Commission (AAPCI), Inc.
celebrated Women’s History Month by preparing the following history of the
battered women’s movement in the late 20th century:
&1960s: The civil rights, anti-war and black liberation movements
challenge the country, laying a foundation for the feminist movement.
1962: In New
York, domestic violence cases are transferred from Criminal Court to
where only civil procedures apply. The husband never faces the harsher
penalties he would suffer if found guilty in Criminal Court for assaulting a
Friedan authors The Feminine Mystique.
Congress passes laws prohibiting discrimination against women in employment and
requiring equal pay for equal work. The traditional marriage contract, however,
remains legally intact in America.
Beating, as cruel and inhumane treatment, becomes grounds for divorce in New York, but
the plaintiff must establish that a "sufficient" number of beatings
have taken place.
state of Maine opens one of the first shelters in the United States.
Harris poll interviews 1,176 American adults in October. They find that 1/5
approve of slapping one's spouse on "appropriate occasions."
California adopts a no-fault divorce law by which either partner can request
and obtain a divorce without fear of being contested by the other party.
& Early 1970s: The women's liberation movement sets the stage for the
battered women's movement. The emerging movement details the conditions of
daily life that allow women to call themselves battered. Women's hotlines and
crisis centers provide a context for battered women to speak out and seek help.
1970s: Throughout many cities, married battered women who leave their husbands
are denied welfare due to their husbands' income.
"We will not be beaten" becomes the mantra of women across the
country organizing to end domestic violence. A grassroots organizing effort
begins, transforming public consciousness and women's lives.
June, the first emergency rape crisis line opens in Washington, D.C.
1968 to 1973, the crime of rape increased 62% nationwide.
1974: As a
result of women's groups' efforts, New York no longer requires a rape victim to
give independent corroboration of the crime.
U.S. states allow wives to bring criminal action against a husband who inflicts
injury upon her.
1975: In New
York, Abused Women's Aid in Crisis is formed after a domestic violence
conference held in January. The AWAIC offers referral service and group
counseling sessions to wives who need help breaking out of the victim syndrome.
1976: In November, the New York City Council passes Resolution
491, introduced by
Member Miriam Freidlander, urging city agencies to make concrete plans for
providing specialized assistance to battered women.
Martin publishes Battered Wives, a major source of information and validation
for the movement. It legitimates the view that violence against women is caused
first Legal Center for Battered Women in the U.S. is funded by a grant from the
Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago.
March 4, 8,200 women from 33 countries meet in Brussels for the International
Tribunal on Crimes Against Women. The issues of the conference include rape,
battering, forced sterilization, mutilation and economic and legal crimes
against women. A resolution on domestic violence is sent to the government of
all countries. Similar tribunals are held in New York and San Francisco.
first domestic violence shelter opened in New York City.
York State funding was provided for shelters and victims of domestic violence.
A law was passed allowing married victims of domestic violence to file criminal
charges against a spouse.
Michigan housewife Francine Hughes is acquitted on the grounds of
"temporary insanity" for the murder of her husband. She suffered
abuse since 1963, but received no help from police or social workers. Even when
she divorced him, he refused to move out.
was told in the book and movie, The Burning Bed: the True Story of an Abused
New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) was established.
New York State Governor’s Task Force on Domestic Violence was created.
Battered Women’s Program was part of HRA’s Family and Adult Services (FAS)
division. FAS operated one center and contracted out operations for another.
The centers provided temporary living space, individual and group counseling,
and referrals to social services.
New York State Domestic Violence Hotline was established.
first annual Domestic Violence Awareness Week is celebrated.
establishes one shelter for battered women in each borough. Over 700 women were
phrase "battered women's movement" has come to symbolize the
activists and organizations serving battered women and their children.
700 shelters are in operation nationwide serving 91,000 women and 131,000
children per year.
Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence in New York was created by Executive
Order, replacing the Task Force.
v. Liberta: New York’s highest court made marital rape a crime, striking down
the “marital rape exemption” on the grounds that it denied equal protection of
the laws to married women.
New York State Spanish Domestic Violence Hotline was established, the first in
York Asian Women's Center is formed in New York City. It sponsors programs to
combat violence against Asian women.
1985: The National Assault Prevention Center is formed by Sally
Cooper, which helps children deal with different forms of abuse.
Domestic Violence Prevention Act permanently funded emergency shelters for
victims through local Departments of Social Services.
New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA) was established.
Brooklyn Supreme Court justice Edward Pincus sentences Chinese immigrant
Dong Lu Chen
to 5 years probation for using a claw hammer to smash the skull of his wife.
Pincus concludes that traditional Chinese values about adultery and loss of
manhood drove Chen to kill his wife.
Forty-eight states have enacted or revamped injunctions that enable courts to
refrain men from abusing, harassing and assaulting the women with whom they
protection orders outside of normal court hours can be obtained in 23 states.
National studies show that 1 out of 7 wives report being raped by their
husband; two-thirds of the rapes occurred more than once.
U.S. Surgeon General ranks abuse by husbands to be the leading cause of
injuries to women aged 15 to 44.
New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) was
created by statute, replacing the Commission. New York became the only state
with an executive level state agency dedicated to addressing the issue of
American Medical Association releases guidelines suggesting that doctors screen
women for signs of domestic violence.
United Nations recognizes domestic violence as an international human rights
issue and issues a Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. A
similar resolution is issued by the Organization of American States.
Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger and New York City Council
Ronnie Eldridge co-chaired the Task Force on Family Violence.
Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act brought about the
development of the Order of Protection Registry; Domestic Incident Reporting
Rights Notification; mandatory arrest; training for judges, law enforcement
personnel, and district attorneys; and the addition or revision of several
crimes under the New York State Penal Law.
federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) created the first legislation
acknowledging domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes and provided
federal resources to encourage coordinated community responses to domestic
York follows Florida in recognizing that rapists cannot claim that the victim's
dress provoked their crime. New Jersey and Pennsylvania add stalking to
definitions of abuse.
Governor Pataki made prevention of domestic violence a priority, declaring a
policy of “zero tolerance” for domestic violence in New York State.
Model Domestic Violence Policy for Counties was introduced.
statewide public awareness campaign and school-based prevention projects were
1999: A law
making stalking a felony in New York State was passed.
2000: The average number of New York City families served by HRA
per day by was nearly 400. The DV shelter capacity increased from 871 beds in
1994 to 1,365 in 2001, serving nearly 2,000 families. In addition to HRA
residential services, HRA provided oversight for eleven contracted
nonresidential DV service providers which served over 15, 000 victims during FY
Sexual Assault Reform Act (SARA) was passed, enacting sweeping changes in New
York State’s rape, sexual assault and child sexual abuse laws.
2002: A New
York State law requiring all current and new Child Protective Service workers
to be trained on domestic violence issues was passed.
Timeline Information was compiled from the following sources:
New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mayor’s Management Report, 1980-2000 HRA MacMillan Library Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse
24-hour helpline: (503) 842-9486 or toll free in Oregon 1 (800) 992-1679
Tillamook County Women's Resource Center, 1902 2nd Street, Tillamook, OR 97141 (503) 842-9486 ♦ 1-800-992-1679 ♦ TTY 1-800-877-8973 Office Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday