6 January 2014
“But even when I stop crying, even when we fall asleep and I'm nestled in his arms, this will leave another scar. No one will see it. No one will know. But it will be there. And eventually all of the scars will have scars, and that's all I'll be--one big scar of a love gone wrong.” ― Amanda Grace
Kathleen* cringes at the memory of waking up in a hospital room. Her face was swollen and unrecognizable after a brutal attack by her husband, the father of her children. “Looking back, all the signs were there, and I ignored them," Kathleen recalls. "Tracking me down when I was at work; telling me I was a bad wife and mother for having a career; following me to the supermarket... that's not love. It's not healthy." Tension mounted until it reached lethal proportions, leaving Kathleen with a severe concussion, brain injury and ongoing facial paralysis. While Kathleen began the process of healing from the attack, participating in rounds of physical, occupational and speech therapy, she made the difficult choice to relocate with her two children as her husband -- who was serving time in prison for the attack -- froze their bank accounts and drained their retirement funds. Without any resources of her own, Kathleen traded in her luxurious home for the Women against Abuse emergency safe haven. Staff helped Kathleen to re-establish safety, provided her behavioral therapy to work through the horrific trauma she had experienced, and even accompanied her to enroll her children in school. When she was ready to transition into permanent housing of her own, the Women against Abuse Safe at Home team was there with relocation assistance and case management support. Today, Kathleen looks back, recognizing the tremendous strides she has made as a survivor of domestic violence. “I’ve hid myself away for four years. And I feel like I’ve lived through it, so I’m ready to come out; to start connecting again and make friends,” Kathleen said. “You can’t get over [domestic violence.] You have to come through it.”
In ancient Rome, wife beating was placed under The Laws of Chastisement. These laws stated that the husband had absolute rights to beat his wife, called discipline. This law was made to the extent that it would protect the husband from harm caused by the wife’s actions. These laws allowed the husband to beat his wife with a rod or switch as long as its circumference is no greater than the girth of the base of the man’s right thumb, hence “The Rule of Thumb.” Towards the beginning of the 1900’s courts in different countries began to rule that the husband had no right to beat his wife. The first sightings of movements of women to stop this abuse started in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when Feminism turned into two major branches, a women’s rights feminism, and a women’s liberation movement made up of socialist feminist and radical feminist groups. The women’s liberation movement set the stage for the battered women’s movement. The upcoming movement details the conditions of daily life that allow women to call themselves battered. Feminist shelters were made to harbor battered women that just couldn’t live at home anymore since the conditions with the husband got so bad. In feminist shelters, women create a new morality that is in direct contrast to the competitive, male-dominated organizations and events surrounding them. Women are inspired and sustained by their relationships with others. As shelters grow, structural questions arise. Some choose to work collectively; others organize around a hierarchal structure, while still others adopt modified collectives or hierarchies. Greater attention is given to individual counseling for women and less on group sharing, and peer support. Soon battered women syndrome started to be the terminology for the actions being done against females and their spouses.