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NCJ Number: 167280 Find in a Library
Title: What Trouble I Have Seen: A History of Violence Against Wives
Author(s): D P del Mar
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 256
Sponsoring Agency: Harvard University Press
Cambridge, MA 02138
Publication Number: ISBN 0-674-95076-3
Sale Source: Harvard University Press
79 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Based largely on an analysis of divorce records, this book traces trends in wife beating in Oregon from the Settlement Era, which began in the 1790's, through the years after World War II.
Abstract: The author concludes that the nature of violence against wives in Oregon varied over time in concert with the rise and fall of a widely shared ethos of self-restraint. In the mid-19th century, during the settlement era, husbands used violence largely to enforce claims to patriarchal authority. Wives commonly faced violence in part because they often contested that authority. The hard, physical nature of women's work facilitated their ability to act on their own behalf, and their isolation from kin, neighbors, or police underscored the importance of feminine self-reliance. Later in the 19th century, violence against wives became less common as an ethos of self-restraint and women's public influence spread. The emphasis on self-control circumscribed wives' behavior as well as husbands', and explicit forms of resistance became less common. Beginning in the 1890's men's violence became more expressive of general male anxieties and misogyny, a trend that became more pronounced with the 20th century's emphasis on marital intimacy and self-realization. Both husbands' violence and wives' agency increased as the 20th- century ethos of self-gratification supplanted self-restraint. The author notes that women's widespread economic dependence has operated across time to keep them married to violent men. Respect for familial privacy has consistently undercut community intervention in domestic violence. Over the entire period of history covered in this study there was no place or time that violence toward wives was rare or wives' resistance to it unproblematic. The author advises that although criminal justice intervention can help particular abused wives, it does little to prevent the ongoing pattern of wife abuse in society. What is needed is a cultural reorientation of men's values regarding relationships with women and the use of violence. Appended discussion of quantitative measures, chapter notes, and a subject index
Main Term(s): Female victims
Index Term(s): Battered wives; Cultural influences; Oregon; Trend analysis
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