“The to choose to either endure the abuse
Posted On June 7, 2019
“The North American ideal of a happy marriage based on enduring romantic love is tarnished by the reality that marriage can be dangerous, especially for women.” (Holloway, Holloway, Witte, P. 263, 2010). The victims of this violence are mostly the women in the relationship. Violence against women was considered a norm in the past because it was a patriarchal society, where men held more power inside the household and outside. Early in the 20th century, women who wanted to leave the abusive marriage were forced to choose to either endure the abuse or to lose their children and have no support, this was because it was deemed acceptable for men to treat women as their property. This was the perfect epitome, of inequality between the two genders. In the past men were protected by the judicial system. Even after spousal violence was a ground for a divorce, it was near impossible to prove, as the justice system also demonstrated a patriarchal system. Abuse does not only impact the spouses but the people around them as well like their children. The patriarchal system is seen through the intergenerational cycle of violence that continues throughout generations as abuse toward the child or the child witnessing violence against their mothers leaves a psychological impact on them, where they think it is a norm. “Feminists explain that most violence is perpetrated by men, women are most at risk of violence from their intimate partners, and the violence is tolerated by a patriarchal society.” (Holloway, Holloway, Witte, P. 263, 2010). The reality is that spousal abuse is still not given enough attention. The common system of patriarchy is still today seen through spousal abuse, as men need the sense of power and control that they don’t have outside of the household. It is an epidemic that is never-ending. Spousal abuse portrays the inequality between the two genders, and represents patriarchal society norms, and directly affects the growth of a child in the negative environment.Historical aspect shapes society’s view on abuse, which represents the inequality between males and females. Women are more vulnerable to abuse because in the past women and children were mere property to men. Society was run by a patriarchal system where men held more power and control, and where women had none. “Hitting a wife or a child was considered acceptable, even necessary, discipline in the past. The expression “rule of the thumb” (Holloway, Holloway, Witte, P. 263, 2010). Abuse of the female gender was something that was normal and wasn’t prosecuted. “Early in the 20th century, women who left their husbands to avoid cruelty or violence were guilty of desertion. As a result, they lost custody of their children and were entitled to no support.” (Holloway, Holloway, Witte, P. 263, 2010). Women were forced to choose to either endure the abuse or to lose their children and have no support, this was because it was deemed acceptable for men to treat women as their property. This was the perfect epitome, of inequality between the two genders. According to the Canadian women’s timeline, for the majority of the 1900’s abuse towards women was laughed upon and treated as a joke, and was first given national attention in 1982. “MP laughed at in the House of Commons” when the issue about spousal abuse toward women was brought up.” Before this woman were ignored or “put in an “insane asylum” because she claimed her husband abused her”.( Violence Against Women: A Global and Canadian Issue class article). Abuse is not a new issue but is still treated as if it doesn’t exist. I understand that a lot of women who have been trying to speak out about these issues, today and yesterday and for years and years, often get shouted down for their efforts. Abuse affects not only the individuals that experience the abuse psychologically but also the people that witness the violence. Abuse is more common in families where the people within the family had grown up in an atmosphere or environment where they have witnessed violence between the elders in the home, or towards them. “One in ten Canadians (10%) stated that, before age 15, they had witnessed violence by a parent or guardian against another adult in the home. The majority of child witnesses—7 in 10 (70%)—also reported having been the victim of childhood physical and/or sexual assault. Those who witnessed parental violence were more likely to have suffered the most severe forms of physical abuse.” (Statistics Canada, 2017). Victims of spousal abuse are usually people who have been abused or witnessed abuse as a child. According to the data on the graph, it is seen that the victims who had witnessed violence by a parent or guardian against another adult, are more prevalent to be a victim of abuse in the future. These stats also support a theory of the notion that abuse is passed on through generations. “The intergenerational cycle of violence supports the idea that violence is learned. Individuals who experienced violence, or abuse as a child, or who observed the assault or abuse of their mothers, are more likely to become the victim or perpetrators of violence in their intimate relationships.” (Holloway, Holloway, Witte, P. 263, 2010). Those children either grow up to think that they deserve the abuse, which leads them to be victims, or that they need that power that they didn’t have as a child to stop the abuse, and then become the perpetrator. This is the continuation of the violence that appears to be unstoppable.Societies view and perspective on spousal abuse towards women still follow the pathway of the past. Due to the rate of prevalence of spousal abuse towards women, it is seen as a norm. “According to the 2014 GSS, one-quarter of spousal violence victims reported having been sexually assaulted, beaten, choked, or threatened with a gun or a knife. Women (34%) were twice as likely to report having experienced this most severe form of violence than men (16%).” (Statistics Canada, 2016). These statistics support that women are more prevalent of being the victim in an abusive intimate relationship, as it is reported more by female victims. The problem is that the perpetrators are not being prosecuted or convicted of the crime. “YWCA Canada estimates that for every 1,000 cases of sexual assault against women only 33 are reported. Of those cases, they say only six are prosecuted and only three earn convictions.” (Akman, 2016). The rate of reported cases in Canada is declining, however, according to “women’s support groups say family violence is often ignored because it goes on behind closed doors.” (Akman, 2016). The declining rate of reporting doesn’t indicate the spousal abuse is not happening, it’s just not being reported, this is much like in the past when women were the ones that were being blamed. The gender inequality is still seen today. “Those of us who work in the domestic and sexual violence field know that victim-blaming is pervasive in this realm, which is to say, blaming the person to whom something was done rather than the person who did it…Our whole cognitive structure is set up to ask questions about women and women’s choices and what they’re doing, thinking, wearing.” (Katz, 2012). Victim blaming can be traced down to the past, it is a coping mechanism for society to make excuses for the reality, and take the easier route, on completely ignoring the perpetrator. Other factors that trace back to the past is the gender discrimination against women. According to the judicial system, the punishment for the same crime should have a different level and degree of punishment, based on the gender of the perpetrator. Sexual assault “against a man is classified as a felony under Section 353 (attracting a punishment of three years’ imprisonment), indecent assault of a woman or a girl is classified as a misdemeanor, under section 360 (attracting a lesser punishment of two years’ imprisonment).” (Van Hout, 2017). This demonstrates that males are still given more importance in the eye of the law, and that gender inequality is still seen today.