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2003 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 8, No. 3
May 2003

Social Causes of Domestic Violence

Historically

  • Husband and wife were viewed as one

  • Husbands had the authority, including the right to:

    — Chastise (beat) their wives and children

    — Control property and children

Current Institutional Practices

Although it is no longer legal to “chastise” your wife, institutions allow domestic violence to continue and reinforce the sense that the woman belongs to her husband. This happens when:

  • Police don’t arrest perpetrators

  • Judges don’t impose consequences for battering

  • Doctors don’t ask about abuse

  • Clergy tell the woman to go home and try harder

  • Employers pay women lower wages than men

Source: Ganley & Schechter, 1996

References for this and other articles in this issue