Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse

Herstory of Domestic Violence: A Timeline of the Battered Women's Movement

SafeNetwork: California's Domestic Violence Resource
A project of the California Department of Health Services, Maternal and Child Health Branch, Domestic Violence Section, and Intervace Children Family Services.
Published: September 1999
Herstory of Domestic Violence


Produced for the California Statewide Conference on Domestic Violence by SafeNETWORK, a project of the California Department of Health Services Maternal and Child Health Branch Domestic Violence Section and Intervace Children Family Services.

The Herstory of Domestic Violence was originally researched and compiled by SafeNETWORK staff, April Howard and Susan Lewis. The Herstory was revised and updated for SafeNETWORK for the 1999 California Statewide Conference on Domestic Violence by Tamsen Stevenson and Cindi Love.

SafeNETWORK, a project of the California Department of Health Services Maternal and Child Health Branch Domestic Violence Section, is operated by Interface Children Family Services. SafeNETWORK provides technical assistance and training to MCH-funded battered women's shelters throughout California.

Herstory of Domestic Violence

Table 1. Herstory of Domestic Violence


Year Events
753 B.C. During the reign of Romulus in Rome, wife beating is accepted and condoned under The Laws of Chastisement. Under these laws, the husband has absolute rights to physically discipline his wife. Since by law, a husband is held liable for crimes committed by his wife, this law was designed to protect the husband from harm caused by the wife's actions. These laws permit 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." The tradition of these laws is perpetuated in English Common Law and throughout most of Europe. 3
202 B.C. At the end of the Punic Wars, the family structure changes giving women more freedoms, including property rights and the right to sue their husbands for unjustified beatings. 3
c. 300 A.D. The Church fathers re-establish the husband's patriarchal authority and the patriarchal values of Roman and Jewish law. The Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, has his wife burned alive when she is no longer of use to him. 3
Middle Ages (900-1300) In Europe, squires and noblemen beat their wives as regularly as they beat their serfs; the peasants faithfully followed their lords' example. The Church sanctions the subjection of women. Priests advise abused wives to win their husbands' good will through increased devotion and obedience. The habit of looking upon women as a species apart, without the same feelings and capacity for suffering which men possess, becomes inbred during the Middle Ages. In a Medieval theological manual, a man is given permission to "castigate his wife and beat her for correction...". 4
1400's The Christian church vacillates between support of wife beating and encouraging husbands to be more compassionate and using moderation in their punishments of their wives. A medieval Christian scholar, Friar Cherbubino of Siena, writes Rules of Marriage, in support of wife beating. 3
1405 Christine de Pizan writes in The Book of the City of Ladies about women's basic humanity and better education and treatment in marriage for women. She accuses men of cruelty and beating their wives. 1
1427 Bernard of Siena suggests that his male parishioners "exercise a little restraint and treat their wives with as much mercy as they would their hens and pigs." 4
1500's Lord Hale, an English Jurist, sets the tradition of non-recognition of marital rape. He states that when women married, they "gave themselves to their husbands" in contract, and could not withdraw that consent until they divorced. "The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent a [sic] contract with wife hath given herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract." This is the basis of the "contractual consent" theory. Lord Hale burned women at the stake as witches and has been characterized as a misogynist. 3
  Abbe de Brantome raises the question, "but however great the authority of the husband may be, what sense is there for him to be allowed to kill his wife?" 4
  Early settlers in America base their laws on old English common-law that explicitly permits wife-beating for correctional purposes. However, the trend in the young states is towards declaring wife-beating illegal. One step towards that end is to allow the husband to whip his wife only with a switch no bigger than his thumb. 5
Late 1500's During the reign of Ivan the Terrible in Russia, the State Church sanctions the oppression of women by issuing a Household Ordinance that describes when and how a man might most effectively beat his wife. He is allowed to kill a wife or serf for disciplinary purposes. A half a century later, many Russian women fight back. When they kill their husbands for all the injustices they have been forced to endure, their punishment is to be buried alive with only their heads above the ground, and left to die. It is not against the law for a husband to kill his wife. 4
  In England, "the Golden Age of the Rod" is used against women and children who are taught that it is their sacred duty to obey the man of the house. Violence against wives is encouraged throughout this time. 4
1721 A German trial transcript documents lesbian violence. The women are on trial for lesbianism when domestic violence is revealed. The defendent, Catharina Linck, is sentenced to death. The codefendent, Catharina Muhlhahn, receives 3 years in jail and is then banished - not because she was the victim, but because she was "simple-minded. 3
1792 In A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Mary Wollstonecraft seeks changes in the education for women and kinder treatment by husbands and lovers. 1
1824 A decision by the Mississippi Supreme Court in Bradley v. State 2 Miss. (Walker) 156 (1824), allows a husband to administer only "moderate chastisement in cases of emergency. . ." 34
1829 In England, a husband's absolute power of chastisement is abolished. 5
1845 Sweden passes an Inheritance Law that gives women and men equal inheritance rights. 4
1857 A Massachusetts court is the first to recognize the spousal rape exemption. The court in Commonwealth v. Fogerty, relies solely on Lord Hale's staement (1500's) in recognizing in dictum that marriage to the victim was a defense to rape. 3
1861 John Stuart Mill writes The Subjection of Women, but waits 8 years to publish it because he did not think the public was ready to accept his essay. 3 He pleads for Parliament to reform the divorce laws to allow women to divorce on the grounds of violence and cruelty. 1
1866 The Amerian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is formed. It predates the founding of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, established in 1875. Both predate any organization aimed at preventing cruelty to women. 3
1867 A man in North Carolina is acquitted of giving his wife three licks with a switch about the size of one of his fingers, but smaller than his thumb. The reviewing appellate court later upheld the acquittal on the grounds that the court should "not interfere with family government in trifling cases." 4
1868 The Treaty of 1868 is negotiated between General Sherman and the Navajos. General Sherman insists that the Navajos select male leaders, thereby stripping women of their ability to participate in decision making. The alien law destroys traditional relationships and concentrates power in the hands of male leaders. "Anglo" paternalism and patriarchy are introduced to Navajo men who learn several "traditions" including robbing women of economic and political power, and wife-beating. 4
1871 Alabama is the first state to rescind the legal right of men to beat their wives (Fulgrahm v. State) 3 Massachusetts also declares wife beating illegal. 5
1874 The "finger-switch" rule is disavowed when the Supreme Court of North Carolina rules that "the husband has no right to chastise his wife under any circumstances." The court goes on to say, "If no permanent injury has been inflicted, nor malice, cruelty nor dangerous violence shown by the husband, it is better to draw the curtain, shut out the public gaze and leave the parties to forget and forgive." 4
1878 Francis Power Cobbe publishes Wife Torture in England. She denounces the treatment of wives in Liverpool's "Kicking District." She documents 6,000 of the most brutal assaults on women over a 3 year period who had been maimed, blinded, trampled, burned and murdered. Cobbe presents a theory that abuse continues because of the belief that a man's wife is his property. 3, 5 Her concerns are moved forward by male parliamentarians and the Matrimonial Causes Act is passed. The Act allows victims of violence to obtain a legal separation from the husband; entitles them custody of the children; and to retain earnings and property secured during the separation. Such a separation order can only be obtained if the husband has been convicted of aggravated assault and the court considers her in grave danger. 1
1880's In England, the law is changed to allow a wife who had been habitually beaten by her husband to the point of "endangering her life" to separate from him, but cannot divorce him. 3
1882 Maryland is the first state to pass a law that makes wife-beating a crime, punishable by 40 lashes, or a year in jail. 3
1886 A lower court in North Carolina, as a result of the 1874 North Carolina Supreme Court ruling, declares that a criminal indictment cannot be brought against a husband unless the battery is so great as to result in permanent injury, endanger life and limb, or be malicious beyond all reasonable bounds. 4
1890 North Carolina Supreme Court removes the last of the restrictions on a husband's liability and prohibits a husband from committing even a slight assault upon his wife. 4
1894 The right to administer moderate chastisement is overruled in Mississippi in Harris v. State, 71 Miss. 462 (1894). 34
1895 The Married Women's Property Act (in England) makes conviction for assault sufficient grounds for divorce. 5
Late 1800's Courts begin to show signs that they might hold husbands responsible and found guilty of marital rape. In 1899, a Louisiana court in State v. Dowell condemns a husband's participation in the rape of his wife by a third party. 3
  With Queen Victoria's ascension to the English throne, lawmakers begin enacting reforms regarding women. Wives can no longer be kept under lock and key, life threatening beatings are considered grounds for divorce, and wives and daughters can not longer be sold into prostitution. 3
1905 In Texas, Frazier v. State, a husband is convicted of assault with the intent to commit rape. The appellate court overturns the conviction by essentially restating Lord Hale's rule of immunity (1500's). 3
1911 The first family court is created in Buffalo, NY. In 1914, the first adult psychiatric clinic is directly linked to a court in Chicago. Professionals believe that domestic relations courts will better solve family problems in a setting of discussion and reconciliation engineered by social service intervention. This is the beginning of the systematic offical diversion and exclusion of violence against wives from the criminal justice system. 1
1917 Bolsheviks give Soviet women full political power and legal equality and assure them access to all economic and cultural areas of Russian society. Legislation deals with the abolition of illegitimacy, the establishment of mother and child welfare centers, creation of day nurseries, the liberalization of abortion laws, and the simplification of marriage procedures. 4
1919 Swedish women obtain the right to vote. 4
  American women win the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. 4
1921 In Sweden, marriage legislation gives women legal independence and equal rights as parents. 4
1924 A French court rules that a husband does not have the right to beat his wife. Prior to this, the Napoleonic Code is dominant, suggesting that "Women, like walnut trees, should be beaten every day." 4
1920's & 1930's Psychoanalysis develps a myth of female masochism into its conception of the normal female psychology. It is argued that women derive sexual gratification from the violence they experience. 1
1936 In Russia, the reforms established by the Bolsheviks begin to crumble. The concept of marriage as a contract between two free and equal people is challenged and reversed. The Communist Party conducts a vigorous campaign to remind women of their place in the home, and the restoration of the "traditional family." 4
1940's After Mao Tse-Tung's Revolutionary Army has rid the villages of North China of enemy control, political workers call the women to the village square to testify to the crimes that had been committed against them. The women speak of their oppression, of being sold as concubines, of being raped and of being beaten. From these "speak bitterness" meetings, local women's associations are formed. In Women's Fate, Claudia Dreifus calls these meetings "the first consciousness-raising groups, the first known attempts to convert womenkind's private laments into public acts..." 4
1945 A California statute states, "Any husband who willfully inflicts upon his wife corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition, and any person who willfully inflicts upon any child any cruel and inhumane corporal punishments or injury resulting in a traumatic condition, is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 10 years or in the county jail for not more than 1 year." A San Jose Superior Court Judge, Eugene Premo, dismisses murder charges against a husband accused of murdering his wife. The judge rules that the California wife-abuse law discriminates on the basis of sex by only making mention of husbands, and is unconstitutional. 4
1950's &1960's The civil rights, anti-war and black liberation movements challenge the country, laying a foundation for the feminist movement. 5
  Women being killed by abusive husbands is rarely recognized for what it is. Headlines often read "Husband Goes Berserk and Shoots Estranged Wife." 4
1960's By making a coalition with Al-Anon programs, Rainbow Retreat (Phoenix, AZ) and Haven House (Pasadena, CA founded in 1964) are treating battered women married to alcoholic men. Between 1964 and 1972, Haven House shelters over 1,000 women and children. 5
  The criminal justice system conceives of crisis intervention as a human program to aid police, courts, and victims. Arrest is inappropriate for solving the complex social and psychological problems demonstrated in these "family squabbles." Police officers become counselor and mediators trained in the skills of crisis intervention. Couples can then be referred to the appropriate social or psychiatric agency. By the time the battered women's movement develops, family courts and psychiatric and social work approaches reduce these criminal assaults to problems of individual or social pathology. 1
1962 In New York, domestic violence cases are transferred from Criminal Court to Family Court where only civil procedures apply. The husband never faces the harsher penalties he would suffer if found guilty in Criminal Court for assaulting a stranger. 4
1963 Betty Friedan authors The Feminine Mystique. It captures the discontent of a whole generation of middle class women who are struggling between aspirations for fulfillment and an ideology that assigns them to the home. 5
1964 An article in the Archives of General Psychiatry written by Snell, Rosenwald, and Robey suggests that battered wives are like the wives of alcoholics, and that these wives have a masochistic need that their husbands' aggression fulfills. 5
1965 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. 4
1966 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. 4
  A study in Chicago reveals that from September 1965 to March 1966, 46.1% of the major crimes perpetrated against women took place in the home. It also found that police response to domestic disturbance calls exceeded total response for murder, rape, aggravated assault, and other service crimes. 4
  Every state except Hawaii has passed child abuse report laws. 5
1967 The state of Maine opens one of the first shelters in the United States. 3
1968 The Harris poll interviews 1,176 American adults in October. They find that 1/5 approve of slapping one's spouse on "appropriate occasions." 4
1969 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. 4
Late 1960's The killing of a wife, sister, or mother by a man upholding his "male honor" is made a serious offense in Italy. 5
Late 1960's & Early 1970's Feminism develps into two major branches, a women's rights feminism like NOW, and a women's liberation movement exemplified by socialist feminist and radical feminist groups. The women's liberation movement, by claiming that what goes on in the privacy of people's homes is deeply political, 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. 5 The feminist movement emphasizes egalitarianism and participatory oranizational models. In feminist shelters, women create a new morality that is in direct contrast to the competitive, male-dominated organizations and bureaucracies surrounding them. Women are inspired and sustained by their relationshps with others, by knowing that their work is crucial and by the feminist process within the shelters. As shelters grow, structural questions arise. Some choose to work collectively, others organize around a hierarchial structure, while still others adopt modified collectives or hierarchies. 5 As more and more shelters and programs receive welfare or Title XX monies, staff workers slowly start to call battered women "clients." Greater attention is given to individual counseling for women and less on group sharing, peer support and teaching battered women to advocate for one another. Social change is discouraged, and Title XX funding can be used only for services, not community education. Clashes between the movement and funding agencies which want programs to respond like other service organizations, sap much energy for serveral years. 5
Early 1970's References to male violence in the family are made in several women's liberation anthologies, such as Sisterhood is Powerful (1970) and Voices from Women's Liberation. Neither of these two anthologies contains articles on rape. The anti-rape movement emerges a couple of years later. 5
  In Chicago, like many other cities, married battered women who leave their husbands are denied welfare due to their husbands' income. 5
  NOW organizes more than 300 local and state rape task forces. 5
  Chicago Women Against Rape forms. 5
  Scotland and Iran make wife-beating illegal. 5
1970's "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. The common belief within the movement is that women face brutality from their husbands and indifference from social institutions. 5
  The Richmond, CA police department is the first in the nation to make domestic crisis intervention training part of its in-service training, and the first to train all of its police officers. This program operates without federal or state funding. In contrast, Oakland police department has only four officers who are trained to "man family crisis cars" and beome more psychologically sensitive to domestic violence. 4
  The family crisis intervention unit of Hayward, CA Police Department hires mental health professionals to accompany them on family crisis calls and to provide onging family counseling. The program, Project Outreach, uses unmarked police cars and operates from 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Fridays through Sundays. By 1976 all officers have been trained in domestic violence. Repeat calls decreased by 27% and total calls by 22%. 4
  In Tokyo, Japan a group of feminists is on the alert for situations where women are victimized by men. They march into the offices of the perpetrators wearing pink hemets, carrying placards that read "We will not condone the tyranny of the husband." If the man is there, they will shout at him through bullhorns for all to hear. If he is not there, they will demand that the company executives justify why they hired such a "heel." The group believes that the tactics work because the men loose face. 4
1970 A study shows that police in Oakland, CA responded to more than 16,000 family disturbance calls during a six-month period. 4
  The index of the Journal of Marriage and the Family includes a reference to "violence." None existed from 1939 to present. 5
1971 Women's Advocates in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN is among the first groups to develop from a woman's consciousness raising group. The organization is built on a collective, rather than a hierarchical model - all the way to the Board of Directors which includes staff and ex-shelter residents. 15The group's first project is a legal information service in the County Legal Aid office started in March 1972. 145
  In Philadelphia, one of the first feminist self-help groups, Women in Transition, forms. They provide services for divorced or separated women, battered wives and single mothers. 2
  The Bay Area Women Against Rape forms in California to provide support to rape victims and combat their "criminal" treatment in the legal system. 25
  Approximately 1/3 of female homicide victims in California are killed by their husbands. 4
  In Kansas City, MO, 40% of all homicides are cases of spouse killing. In almost 50% of the cases, police had been summoned five or more times within a two-year period before the homicide took place. 4
  New York Radical Feminists hold a speakout and conference on rape. 2
  Susan Griffin authors Rape - The All-American Crime. It breaks the silence of terror and shame, and articulates a theory that rape is an act of aggression. 5
  Erin Prizzey establishes an "advice center" in London where women and their children come together and meet their peers, escape loneliness and discuss mutual issues. This center develops into Chiswick Women's Aid, also known as the Battered Wives' center. 14
1971 Copenhagen's first shelter, Kvindehuset (The Women's House), is opened by the Red Stockings, the Danish Women's Liberation organization. 4
1972 The Center for Women Policy Studies is founded to identify, analyze and propose solutions to problems related to the status of women. 5
  Joyce N. Ruiz files suit against the police in Sacramento, CA charging that they had refused to enforce a court order against her estranged husband. The suit is designed to require the police to enforce the law, but the case was dismissed. 4
  The San Jose Police Department is sued on behalf of Ruth Bunnell for wrongful death due to police negligence. Ruth called the police requesting assistance but was refused. Ruth's husband killed her. In the year prior to her death, she called the police 29 times complaining about the violent acts her ex-husband committed against her and her daughters. 4
  In June, the first emergency rape crisis line opens in Washington, D.C. 25
  In Kansas City, MO, police receive 46,137 domestic disturbance calls, 82% of the total calls for that year. 4
  James Bannon, Commander of the Detroit police department, describes how 4,600 battered women's cases "disappeared" as they moved through the criminal justice system in Detroit. Only 300 cases went to trial. 5
  Haven House, a shelter in Pasadena, CA, is the first to receive a government contract. 6
  Rainbow Retreat, one of the earliest battered women's shelters, opens in Phoenix, AZ. 5
  In February, Women's Advocates (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN) moves to a 1 bedroom apartment to offer minimal shelter services. In 1974, they expand and purchase a house. 4
  Informal networks between women convey information, strategies, and support. Friendships among women from Carbondale, IL and Pittsburgh influence the founding of the Pittsburgh women's center. 5Pittsburgh's Women's Center South begins in the home of Ellen Berliner. A shelter opens in April 1974. 4
  The July issue of Ms. Magazine reports in the "No Comment" section an ad for a bowling alley in Michigan, which reads "Have some fun. Beat your wife tonight. Then celebrate with some good food and drink with your friends." 4
  From 1968 to 1973, the crime of rape increased 62% nationwide. 4
  Interval House, Toronto's first refuge house, opens. Transition House, Vancouver's first refuge house, opens in January 1974. 4
1973-1974 Of the several thousand domestic violence cases proceeding through the Bureau of Family Relations of the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, only 8 lead to a formal complaint and prosecution. 4
  Al-Anon members who are battered women organize a shelter in Harrisburg, PA. 5
1974 The term "battered women" is still not a part of the public's vocabulary. Writings on battered women are becoming less overtly hostile, but are still riddled with sexism. 5
  Transition House in Boston is founded by two ex-battered women, Chris Womendez and Cherie Jimenez and two former members of Cell 16 (one of Boston's earliest radical feminist groups), Betsy Warrior and Lisa Leghorn. Womendez and Jimenez simply declare their home a shelter. With their foundation in the women's movement, the founders believe that battering is an integral part of women's oppression; women's liberation its solution. It continued to operate as a collective structure and maintain its grassroots principles. 5However, it gained little funding and eventually closed. 1
  In San Francisco, 25% of all murders involve legally married or cohabitating mates. 4
  Out of a recognition of the lack of services for Latina Women and the absence of Latina controlled organizations, a multi-racial group of women in Boston's South End funds Casa Myrna Vazquez shelter. Later, after becoming a technical assistance center, Cassa Myrna Vazquez produces Doing Community Outreach to Third World Women. 5
  In California, battered women are able to legally claim compensation for their injuries. 4
  Haven House provides the country's first Children's Program. 6
  Rainbow Retreat establishes an outpatient program to offer counseling to women not ready to leave. 4
  Columbus, OH has a Night Prosecutor Program funded by the LEAA. The program offers 24-hour service focusing on pre-arrest diversion tactics. The purpose is to avoid costly arrest and persecution procedures. In the first year, only 2% of the 3,626 complaints result in criminal charges. The emphasis is on mediation to avoid prosecuting cases. 4
  In Boston, police respond to 11,081 family disturbance calls, most involving physical violence. At the end of the first quarter of 1975, 5,589 such calls were received, half of the previous year's figure for that period. Boston City Hospital reports that 70% of the assault victims received in the ER were known to be women attacked in homes by husbands and lovers. 4
  In Fairfax County, VA, considered one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, police report 4,073 family disturbance calls, and that approximately 30 assault warrants are sought each week. Domestic violence is not just a ghetto or lower-class issue. 1
  According to the FBI, 132 police officers are killed in the nation. Twenty-nine of them, one out of five officers, is killed while responding to domestic disturbance calls. 1
  As a reult of women's groups' efforts, New York no longer requires a rape victim to give independent corroboration of the crime. 2
  Through their newsletter, the Feminist Alliance Against Rape begins to fight for legal and institutional changes to help rape victims. It is the movement's sounding board and brings inspiration to hundreds of women working in isolated groups. 25
  Eisaku Sato, former prime minister of Japan, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Prior to his nomination, Sato's wife accused him publicly of beating her. Sato's popularity soars after his wife reveals that "Yes, he's a good husband, he only beats me once a week." Apparently, the committee did not consider wife-beating a breach of peace. 4
  An Italian man is sentenced to two years in jail for raping his wife at gun point. 4
  Britain holds Parliamentary Select Committee hearings on Violence in Marriage. Much of the testimony describes the roots of domestic violence as lying in individual inadequacy. This is the popular contemporary theory. 1
  Interval House, a 3 bedroom flat in an old tenement property is established in Glasgow, Scotland. Edinburgh establishes 2 refuges. These organizations operate with feminist principles of self-help and non-hierarchical model. 14
  Erin Prizzey authors the groundbreaking Scream Quietly or the Neighbors Will Hear, the first on the subject of battered wives. The British movement started four years before the U.S. movement and is known through Prizzey's work. 45
  Time Magazine prints an article on Erin Prizzey's Chiswick Center. However, it is carried only in the European edition, suggesting that spousal battering is not of interest to Americans. 4
  Rotterdam opens its first refuge with funds from the General Aid Office of the Netherlands. In 1975, 2 additional houses are obtained. 4
  Elsie, a battered women's shelter in Australia, is formed when members of the women's Liberation squatted in 2 abandoned houses in the Glebe section of Sydney and refused to move out. 4
1975 With a unanimous vote at its national conference, NOW declares marital violence a major issue and establishes a National Task Force on Battered Women/Household Violence 4
  The December issue of Vogue magazine carries a fashion layout depicting a couple alternately fighting and caressing each other. One photograph shows the female with her face twisted in pain after the male model hit her. The caption merely notes that her jumpsuit could "really take the heat." 4
  Most U.S. states allow wives to bring criminal action against a husband who inflicts injury upon her. 4
  The Oakland, CA police department outlines their policy of non-arrest in domestic violence cases in its Training Bulletin on Techniques of Dispute Intervention. They state that they see their role as more of a "mediator and peacemaker" rather than an enforcer of the law. 4
  The California Senate Subcommittee on Nutrition and Human Needs holds hearings on domestic violence. 4
  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. 4
  In April, the Ann Arbor MI NOW Wife Assault Task Force is formed. They develop a "how to" technical manual (Wife Beating: How to Develop a Wife Assault Task Force and Project) to assist women's groups in challenging their community to offer needed services for battered women. 4
  Susan Brownmiller authors her book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. 24
  Diana E. Russell authors her book The Polictics of Rape: the Victim's Perspective. 4
  Women in Transition publishes the Women's Survival Manual: A Feminist Handbook on Separation and Divorce. 2
  In England, the feminist oriented National Women's Aid federation is established by women from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.5 The women attending the first national gathering of Chiswick's Women's Aid groups split from that group to form a democratic, egalitarian organization. Erin Prizzey responds by sending the following letter to social work departments: "We are particularly worried and unhappy that there are groups who seem to be trying to use Women's Aid as a platform for Women's Liberation and Gay Women's Liberation. We would strongly advise Social Services and Housing Departments to look very carefully at the groups in their areas who are offering to set up refuge before giving them your support." 1
  After seven years of debate, a new family law goes into effect in Italy. It explicitly does away with the ancient Rome concept of patris potestas, which vested sole authority in the father. Wife-beating is also abolished. 4
  In Kinghorn, Scotland, the Magistrate George MacKay, fines a husband $11.50 for hitting his wife in the face. The magistrate told the husband, "it is a well known fact that you can strike your wife's bottom if you wish, but you must not strike her on the face." 4
  Brazil passes a penal code that prohibits husbands from selling, renting, or gambling away their wives. 4
  In South Africa, Queen Sibongile Winnifred of the Zulus is granted interim custody of her two children after alleging in affidavits to the Durban Supreme Court that her husband, the Zulu King, had whipped her while she was pregnant. 4
1976 The International Women's Year Conference is held in Houston, TX. Meetings such as this on the local, state and national level allow women to form coalitions with one another and create a national battered women's movement. 5
  The Sounthern California Coalition on Battered Women forms. 6
  In January, La Casa de las Madres in San Francisco is founded by Marta Segovia Ashley and six other women, feminists and violence survivors. 4
  Ken Nealy, a state legislative aide in Pennsylvania, invites several women from around the state to attend hearings so that grassroots groups might have an impact on pending state legislation. Out of this meeting, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence is formed. 5
  In October, the Wisconsin Conference on Battered Women is held. Women from around the country establish the national newsletter, The National Communication Network for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. 5
  Lawsuits are filed against recalcitrant police departments. In October, battered women file a class action suit, Scott v. Hart against the Oakland police department. The police department settles in 1979. It agrees to stop training officers to avoid arrest in domestic violence cases, to treat each case on its own merits, to allow the plaintiff's attorneys to do weekly squad trainings with the officers, to hand out resource cards to victims, and to donate money to local battered women's shelters. In December, battered women file a suit, Bruno v. Codd against the New York City police department, department of probation and the clerks of the Family court. The police settle the case before it goes to trial. These two lawsuits inspire New Haven, CT, Chicago, IL and Atlanta, GA to threaten their police departments. Los Angeles, CA women file suit in 1979. The era of crisis intervention, family court diversion and policy inaction seemed to be coming to an end. 135
  Nebraska makes marital rape a crime. 2
  In November, the New York City Council passes resolution 491 (Freidlander), urging city agencies to make concrete plans for providing specialized assistance to battered women. 5
  Del Martin publishes Battered Wives, a major source of information and validation for the movement. It legitimates the view that violence against women is caused by sexism. 5
  Betsy Warrior's directory of individuals and groups working on domestic violence is published, Working on Wife Abuse. 15
  A bill in the Florida State legislature is introduced "authorizing a peace officer to arrest a person without a warrant if the officer reasonably believes the person has committed an assault or battery upon the person's spouse." 4
  To date, Birch Bayh (D-IN) is the only U.S. Senator to express interest in introducing federal legislation on family violence through the Senate Judiciary Committee. 4
  The Center for Women Policy Studies begins publishing Response thanks to a grant from the LEAA. The newsletter, mailed free to a national audience, centers on the criminal justice, hospital, social service and federal responses to rape and domestic violence. 5
  Women of the Loop Center YMCA hold a meeting of women's organizations and individuals to discuss services for battered women. A conference is held in the fall and the Chicago Abused Women's Coalition is founded. Shelter and legal task forces are established. 5
  The Chicago Abused Women's Coalition newsletter is published in December. 5
  The first Chicago Abused Women's Coalition reveals housing alternatives for women who have no family or friends. 5
  The first Legal Center for Battered Women in the U.S. is funded by a grant from the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago. 5
  The anti-rape movement is at its peak. There are approximately 1,500 separate projects related to the issue of rape. 5
  There are 400 independent rape crisis centers for women that provide self-defense courses, support groups, and counseling. 2
  In San Francisco, Diana Russell and others form Women Against Violence in Pornography and the Media Against Women organization. 2
  Women Against Violence Against Women, a Los Angeles organization demonstrates against the port film Snuff which depicts the killing and dismemberment of women. 2
  An old town ordinance is still on the books in Pennsylvania stating that no husband shall beat his wife after ten o'clock at night or on Sundays. 2
  The District of Columbia police have the authority to make a valid warrant-less arrest on probable cause if they believe the person has committed an assault and may cause injury to others. Yet, they continue to adhere to a non-arrest policy in domestic violence cases. 4
  In England and Wales, The Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act gives women the right to occupy the matrimonial home and provides access to exclusion orders. 1
  On 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.5 Similar tribunals occur in New York and San Francisco. 4
  Russian husbands are answerable under the rape laws, receiving a sentence of 3-7 years for rape based on their wife's complaint with no witness needed. They can also get 2 weeks in jail for "gross behavior" towards their wife based on her word. In Sweden, Denmark and countries in the Communist bloc, the criminal codes proscribe rape in marriage. 4
1977 Activities have moved from the phrase "battered women" into the public consciousness. 5
  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. Her story is told in 1980 by Faith McNulty in The Burning Bed: the True Story of an Abused Wife. 2
  Washington State Supreme Court makes a landmark decision in State v. Wanrow declaring that a woman defendant's right to equal protection under the law in a murder trial was violated by instructions that require a woman's conduct be measured against that of a reasonable man finding himself in the same circumstances. The use of commensurate force and the perception of an imminent danger might be different for a woman, who is entitled to have the jury consider her actions in that light. Thus the reasonable woman standard. This is the beginning of the battered women's syndrome defense. 4
  Jan Peterson, formerly on the staff of Brooklyn's National Congress of Neighborhood Women and co-founder of the Brooklyn shelter, is appointed Associate Director of Public Liaison at the White House. On July 20, the first White House meeting opens with testimony of battered women and statements presented by activists. 5
  The New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women is founded. 5
  In Minnesota, the first state funding bill for domestic violence services is drafted jointly by a state Senator and a Consortium of Battered Women. The first award of $50,000 is for community education. 5
  In July, the first battered women's refuge using apartments is available in New York City. In October, the City opens a shelter in a hotel that accepts per diem welfare payments. Unfortunately, the shelter is located near Times Square, the pornography center of the city. In 1981, the shelter moves from Times Square to another welfare hotel. New York shelters are unavailable to working women. 5
  In March, Brooklyn's first shelter, Women's Survival Space, is opened by the Center for the Elimination of Violence in the Family. This is the only autonomous women's shelter in the city. It fails when it is unable to resolve growing internal strife. 5
  American Friends Service Committee sponsors New York City's first conference on battered women. Out of the conference, the New York Coalition for Battered Women is formed. By 1979, the Coalition dies due to internal political differences and distrust. 5
  The National Communication Network for the Elimination of Violence Against Women publishes its first issue in April. The headline of the third issue reads "Do We Have a Right to Self-Defense?" The NCN continues to carry stories of women murdered by their husbands and women who killed in self-defense. 5
  Women around the country march annually to "Take Back the Night." They walk with confidence because of the collective presence of women. Women feel strength and temporary psychological liberation through turning individual fear into mass anger. 5
  In California, the Domestic Violence Center Act (SB 91, Presley) passes which will provide safe houses for battered women at the local level with funds from marriage license fees. 7
  In California, AB 1019 (Fazio) is enacted, giving courts the authority to grant temporary restraining orders in domestic violence situations. 7
  In England, the Homeless Person's Act is passed which gives a battered woman priority in obtaining housing.1 Many women live in refuges for up to 9 months due to housing shortages. 5
1978 In January, the United States Commission on Civil Rights sponsors a Consultation on Battered Women: Issues of Public Policy attended by activists, academics and representatives from legal, medical and social service agencies. Since the object is to identify issues and possible solutions, testimony is presented encouraging debate between presenters and formal respondents. Del Martin chairs the meeting and sets the focus on the roots of domestic violence in marriage, male domination, and women's subordinate status. The hearings legitimize the needs of battered women as a matter of national concern. 1
  The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, born from the USCCR consultation, is the result of extensive organizing efforts by feminists nationawide. 256The initial goals of the NCADV emphasize gaining financial aid for shelters and grassroots services, sharing information and supporting research beneficial to the movement. 1
  The Florida State Legislature places a $5 tax on marriage license to raise money for shelters. 5
  The National Communication Network and the Feminist Alliance Against Rape merge and publish their first issue in August. by November, the new publication is calling itself Aegis, the Magazine on Ending Violence Against Women. It is the only journal dedicated to preserving and building a feminist analyst and grassroots movement. 5
  On May 23, the House of Representatives by a vote of 205 to 201 fails to pass the domestic Violence Act of 1978. The Senate passes H.R. 12299, the Domestic Violence Act of 1978. 5
  Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) includes specific language into its funding guidelines reaffirming shelters as an eligible funding category. In 1982, HUD is reorganized and The Office of Women's Policy and Program staff is eliminated. Community Development Block Grants are moved to local control and thereby subject to less federal regulation. 5
  The California Attorney General holds conferences on domestic violence. 6
  In June, the Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women's Service Groups is formed. By 1981, it has 18 members. 5
  Violence in the home has become a priority for the LEAA when it pioneers a federal response to battered women and recognizes the existence of family violence and women's right to safety. Eleven grants are made to agencies providing services. In 1979, 16 projects are funded under its Family Violence program, an outgrowth of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program. Nine more projects are added in 1980. The program closed in 1981. 5
  Capt. Nancy Raiha and co-workers in Social Work Services start the first domestic violence program and shelter at Ft. Campbell, KY. Military police write a protocol for domestic violence calls and the batterer's Commander can send him to counseling and/or the barracks. 4
  In Berkeley, CA, Laura X establishes the National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape to lobby for state laws against marital rape. 2
  The first national feminist conference on pornography is held in San Francisco. There is a large "Take Back the Night" march to draw attention to a women's right to walk the streets at night without fear. 2
  John Rideout of Oregon is the first man indicted for marital rape, but is acquitted. Later he was jailed for harassing his wife after they broke up. 2
  A study in England finds that for the prior 1 year period, 11,400 women and 20,850 children had been sheltered. Activists pressure the government for this research. 1
  On April 14-15, 128 women from 13 western nations gather at the International Conference on Battered Women in Amsterdam. 5 1979There are more than 250 battered women's shelters in the United States. 2
  Rape crisis centrs in 20 states join to form the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault. 2
  "Battered spouse" and "battered woman" are new categories added to the International Classification of Diseases: Clinical Modification Scheme. 1
  Thomas v. City of Los Angels (settled in 1985) results in a city-wide protocol for law enforcement, including taking restrainng order violations seriously and providing money for shelters. 3
  In California AB 546 (Mori) makes spousal rape a crime, punishable as a felony or misdemeanor. 7
  LEAA grants money to a Santa Barbara, CA program which operates shelters, collects data on the extent of violence, prosecutes cases, refers appropriate cases to diversion and treatment programs and trains law enforcement personnel. The project has an umbrella organization to programs and trains law enforcement personnel. The project has an umbrella organization to introduce, implement and monitor itself. Evaluators later conclude "virtually all the gains in reporting made during the first year of the Family Violence Project were lost during the second year." The experiences of Santa Barbara illustrate the importance of support from key individuals in the criminal justice system and the extreme difficulties associated with introducing innovation in the face of persistent, often virulent, opposition. 1
  A survey in Minnesota finds that 70% of the women requesting shelter had been turned away due to lack of space. 5
  The Domestic Violence Act (1976) allows for temporary exclusion from the house of the violent partner using a civil injunction with the possibility of attaching powers of arrest for subsequent violation. 1
  Lenore Walker authors The Battered Woman. 5
  As late as 1979, less than 15 state legislatures have enacted laws providing funds for shelters. Less than half of all shelters receive any state or federal funding. 5
  The Navy's Family Advocacy Program is the only service-wide program that treats wife battering and child abuse. 4
  The National Center for Women and Family Law is organized to offer legal resources to low-income women. The National Battered Women's Law Project provides information on domestic violence. 2
1980 The California Alliance Against Domestic Violence is founded by Northern California Support Services, Southern California Coalition on Battered Women, Central California Coalition on Domestic Violence, California Women of Color Against Domestic Violence and Western States Shelter Network. This is considered "bottom up" organizing. The California Alliance sets its own goals as do each members coalition. 5
  Abused Women's Aid in Austin, TX completes a multi-million dollar shelter. In order to obtain the cooperation of local funders and influential members of the community, the original group goes through a purge of activists whose personal politics or sexual preference do not "fit." 1
  The Los Angels County Domestic Violence Council forms. 6
  The April, May and June issues of Reponse has material on programs for men who batter. 5
  The Air Force establishes an Office on Family Matters to deal with domestic Violence. 4
  Although the Senate passes H.R. 2977 (Domestic Violence and Services Act) by a vote of 46 to 41, the House - Senate compromise version of the bill is filibustered by a Republican critic and then withdrawn by the sponsors before another Senate vote. 5
  By 1980, the National Women's Aid Federation has established organizations in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. 5
1981 On October 17, The National Coalition declares a national day of unity on behalf of battered women across the country. 1
  The first annual Domestic Violence Awareness Week is celebrated. 6
  There are nearly 500 battered women's shelters in the United States. 4
  In March, the first national conference on "Domestic Violence in the Military Community" is held. 4
  Nilda Rimonte, a Filipino victim of abuse, establishes Everywomens Shelter in Los Angels, CA. It is the first shelter in the U.S. for Asian Women. 1
  A study by Stark e al. reveals that 73% of the battered women seeking emergency medical attention for injuries do so after leaving the batterer. 3
  The Office on Domestic Violence is dismantled after the election of President Reagan. Their few remaining grants are monitored by the Natonal Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. By November, NCCAN could site no other federally funded programs for battered women. 1
  Subcommittees of the Navajo Nation Council, in cooperation with the Navajo Nation Judicial Branch, hold hearings on the scope and impact of domestic violence. The Courts of Navajo Nations issue rules for criminal and civil proceedings to provide remedies. 1
  Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women's Service Groups publishes For Shelter And Beyond. It details the philosophy, tasks, skills and information needed to effectively help battered women in shelters. 1
  The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence begins holding regional retreats and meetings in addition to statewide meetings to build support, involve more women and strengthen commitment to Coalition activities. 5
  As of September, it is estimated that 25 states allocate federal Title XX or Emergency Assistance funds for domestic violence services. 1
  The Women of Color Task Force of the National Coalition receives an 8 month planning grant from the Ford Foundation to address issues unique to women of color. 1
  Restraining orders are granted only for divorce, separation or custody proceedings in 12 states. 1
  Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin author Pornography: Men Possessing Women. They draft an anti-pornography law that was passed by the Minneapolis City Council in 1983 but vetoed by the mayor. 1
  In California, AB 1246 (Presley) takes effect, funding shelters from marriage licenses. 7
  In New York City, 5 shelters for battered women turn away 85 out of 100 women due to capacity limits. 5
  In England, there are approximately 135 refuges, 70 of which are not government funded. Ninety-seven of the refuges in England are affiliated with the National Women's Aid Federation. There are 37 refuges in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also associated with the Federation. 5
1982 The second National Coalition Against Domestic Violence features the first national Women of Color conference. Race, class and homophobia are central themes of this conference. 1
  The words "battered women's movement" has come to symbolize the groups of organizations serving battered women and their children. 5
  There are an estimated 300 to 700 shelters and safe home projects in the United States. 5
  A study in the Midwest by Oppenlander concludes "mediation appears to be a way to avoid arrest in the majority of domestic assault cases in which it is used," and is related to "an avoidance of the law enforcement function of the police." Although officers claimed to routinely make referrals, observations of police action reveal that only 4% make referrals and rarely mention shelters to women. 1
  In New York, only one shelter in the city belongs to an autonomous woman's organization. The other three are administered by social service organizations. 1
  The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence administers $2 million a year in state Title XX monies, trains police and district judges, and administers a five-state coalition building grant. It also gathers the membership continuously for support, skills sharing and political discussion. 5
1983 Over 700 shelters are in operation nationwide serving 91,000 women and 131,000 children per year. 6
  The U.S. Department of Justice states that 3/4 of domestic assaults reported to law enforcement agencies may have happened after the couple separates. 3
  National attention is focused on male violence after a gang rape of a woman in a bar in Bedford, MA. Four men are convicted of aggravated assault and given prison sentenses. The attack on the woman's character is subject of the film The Accused, starring Jodie Foster. 2
1984 The U.S. Attorney General's Task Force on Family Violence holds national hearings and issues a report. 6
  The California Governors Conference on Victims of Crime is held. 6
  People v. Liberta, New York. An ex-husband convicted of (non-marital) rape asserts a violation of his right to Equal Protection, i.e. if his wife had not obtained a restraining order, thereby causing a separation, his rape of her would not have been a crime. The appellate court agreed with him and struck down the marital rape exemption in the state statute. 3
  The Victims of Crime Act is passed. In 1988, Congress amends the Act, requiring state victim compensation programs to make awards to victims of domestic violence. 3
  Lenore Walker writes The Battered Women's Syndrome. This book discusses the "learned helplessness" theory of battered women and the "cycle of violence." 3
  By order of Chief Justice, Nevada closes its courts for one day to send the judges to domestic violence training. 3
  In California, SB 1472 (Watson) makes police intervention more effective by requiring police response, written policies, statewide officer training, and domestic violence calls record keeping. 7
  In Weishaupt v. Commonwealth, the court minimizes Lord Hale's theory (1500's), asserting that it was not a law. The court asserts the existence of implied consent to sexual intercourse in marriage, but states that the consent was revocable. 3
1985 Tracey Thurman wins her suit against a Conneticut police department for negligence and violation of her civil rights. Her husband receives a 15-year sentence for attacking her, stabbing her and repeatedly kicking her in the head during 1983. 2
  New York Asian Women's Center is formed. It sponsors programs to combat violence against Asian women. 2
  The National Assault Prevention Center is formed by Sally Cooper, which helps children deal with different forms of abuse. 2
  In Seattle, the first support group for battered lesbians is started. 2
  In California, AB 573 (Klehs) passes. It requires law enforcement officers responding to domestic violence calls to give the survivor a written notice with the telephone number of the local shelters, community services and information on criminal and civil legal options. 7
  In California, SB 1058 (Lockyer) is passed creating mandatory jail time of at least 48 hours for persons who violate domestic violence restraining orders. 7
1986 The San Francisco Asian Women's Shelter Project conducts a survey of 33 Bay Area social service agencies. They find that 800 battered Asian women sought help that year, representing 0.2% of the 400,000 Asian women living in the Bay Area. 3
1987 Sue Osthoff and Barbara Hart, in Philadelphia, establish the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women. 2
  In California, AB 1599 (Speier) allows emergency protective orders to be issued when a court is not in session. AB 224 (Speier) of 1993 extends the duration of the emergency protective orders from 2 to 5 court days. 7
1988 A study of 111 shelters in the U.S. finds that they rank funding issues as a "highest possible priority." 1
1989 The U.S. has 1,200 battered women programs which shelter 300,000 women and children per year. 1
  England has approximately 100 shelter programs. Wales has 32 refuges serving nearly 5,000 women and about an equal number of children. Scotland has 37 groups with 32 refuges serving 12,000 women and children. 1
  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. Pincus justifies Chen's probationary sentence by stating that Chen was just as much a victim as his wife due to extenuating circumstances. The Chen decision sent a message to battered immigrant women that they had no recourse against domestic violence. 3
Late 1980's The "battered women's syndrome" is first used as a defense for a lesbian killing her partner. Annette Green is convicted of first degree murder of her partner Ivonne Julio in Palm Beach, Florida. The judge allows the "battered women's syndrome" defense changing it to "battered person defense." The defense attributes the verdict to homophobia. 3
1990's District Attorney's Office begin to adopt a "no-drop" policy, in which the prosecutor clarifies to the victim and the defendant that the prosecutor, not the victim, is in charge of the case, and that the victim is unable to get the charges dropped. 3
  States begin to clarify statutorily that Battered Women's Syndrome (BWS)can be the basis for a recommendation for parole or agrant of clemency, and mandate training on domestic violence and BWS for the parole board. Prosecutors begin to use BWS to obtain convictions of batterers. It is also used as a defense when women kill their batterers. 3
  The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) begins to recognize domestic violence as grounds for asylum in the U.S. A judge rules that the wife and children of a prominent Jordanian may be given asylum in the U.S. and that the batterer be excluded from entering the U.S. The judge's belief that the batter would carry out his threats to kill them, his influence in Jordan and the threats of abuse justified the asylum. 3
1990 A survey of several hundred therapists regarding domestic violence cases reveals that 41% failed to identify obvous evidence of violence. None of the therapists identified the lethality of the situation. Those who did identify conflict minimized the severity and 55% said they would not intervene. Fourteen percent said they would work on the couples "communication style." 3
  Forty-eight states have enacted or revamped injunctions that enable courts to refrain men from abusing, harassing and assaulting the women with whom they live. Emergency protection orders outside of normal court hours can be obtained in 23 states. 1
  Studies show that 1 out of 7 wives report being raped by their husband; 2/3 of the rapes occured more than once. 3
  In 23 states, police officers may arrest on "probable cause" in cases of simple or minor assault within the home. A few states and cities go further by imposing a mandatory duty to arrest the violent offender. 1
  In California, SB 2184 (Royce) and SB 1342 (Royce) of 1992 pass. These establish the crime of stalking. California is the first state in the nation to do so. 7
  In California, AB 2700 (Roybal-Allard) requires judges to consider any history of spousal abuse before determining child custody and visitation rights. 7
  In California, AB 1753 (T. Friedman) passes. It prohibits people under a domestic violence restraining order from obtaining a gun. SB 1278 (Hart) of 1995 gives judges the authority to disallow batterers subject to a restraining order to own or possess a firearm while the restrainng order is in effect. 7
  Angela West, deputy city attorney in Los Angeles city Attorney's Office tries the first lesbian battering case in which evidence regarding Battered Women's Syndrome is successfully used. The case is significant because the police described the dispute as battery between two roommates, rather than between lovers. 1
1991 in California, AB 785 (Eaves) passes, permitting the admission of "battered woman syndrome" as evidence in a criminal trial. 7
  The women students at Brown University begin a graffiti campaign to publicize the names of male students who commit date rape. The university sponsors a forum to discuss the isue, and a woman stands up every three minutes to indicate the frequency of attacks on women throughout the country. The university implements procedures for handling complaints and a mandatory date rape seminar. 2
  The Navajo Nation Department of Law Enforcement reports that 0.6 to 1 % of Navajos over age 18 are victims of domestic violence. The report projects that by 1995, 1.5 to 1.8 % of the Navajo Nation population will be affected. With a projected population of 198,000, there will be 3,564 cases of domestic violence. 3
  On November 1, The Navajo Nation Judicial Conference adopts domestic violence court rules based on Navajo comon law, the Equal Rights provision of the Navajo Nation Bill of Rights, principles of the law of equity and English-American common law. 3
1992 The U.S. Surgeon General ranks abuse by husbands to be the leading cause of injuries to women aged 15 to 44. 7
  The FBI reports that 1,431 women were killed by husbands or boyfriends. 7
  The American Medical Association releases guidelines suggesting that doctors screen women for signs of domestic violence. 3
  Nineteen states require arrest for violation of an order of protection. 3
  Swarthmore college begins date rape prevention programs. 3
  In California, SB 804 (Boatwright) is passed amending the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act to say that California courts cannot deny jurisdiction in a custody dispute when the taking or retention of the child from one state to another was the result of domestic violence against person seeking custody. 7
1993 The 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. 3
  In California, SB 5 (Presley) raises marriage license fees by $4 to provide funding to domestic violence shelters. 7
  In California, AB 187 (Solis) makes all forms of rape, including spousal rape, essentially the same crime. 7
  In California, AB 1850 Nolan) passes allowing police to arrest people who violate protective orders, even if the officer is not present to witness the violation. 7
  In California, AB 242 (Alpert) bans a person convicted of spousal abuse, stalking or violating a domestic violence restraining order from owning or possessing a firearm for ten years. 7
  A study conducted by the Family Violence Prevention Fund finds that most battered patients are not identified as such by emergency staff and that emergency staff are not trained in identification or referral procedures. As a result, in California, AB 890 (B. Friendman) is passed. It requires health care providers to get training in the detection of domestic violence. Hospitals and clinics are also required to adopt written policy on how to treat battered people. 7
  In California, AB 1652 (Speier) requires health practitioners to report domestic violence to law enforcement. 7
1994 Congress passes the Violence Against Women Act, part of the federal Crime Victims Act, which funds services for victims of rape and domestic violence, allows women to seek civil rights remedies for gender-related crimes, and provides training to increase police and court officials' sensitivity. 2 It creates for the first time a federal right to sue the assailant for gender-based violence and provides that states and American Indian nations give full faith and credit to each other's restraining orders. 3
  New 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. 2
  California begins distributing information on domestic violence to any couple applying for a marriage license. 2
  The California Department of Justice reports that 251,233 incidents of domestic violence were reported by local law enforcement agencies. 7
  The CA Justice Department reports that 123 homicides were committed by current or former husbands or boyfriends while 35 were attributed to a current or former wife or girlfriend. 7
  O.J. Simpson is arrested for the murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman.
  In California AB 167 (B. Friedman) the Friedman-Alpert-Solis Battered Women's Protection Act, and AB 801 (B. Friedman) pass, providing $11.5 million for shelters and $3.5 million to improve domestic violence prosecutions. This marks the first time that substantial state general fund dollars are committed to domestic violence protection. 7
1994 In California, AB 3034 (Solis) passes. It provides a system for the immediate entry of domestic violence restraining orders by the issuing court in a statewide computerized registry maintained by the Department of Justice. 7
1995 O.J. Simpson is acquited in the murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman.
  In California, SB 591 (Solis) is passed which encourages the arrest of the abuser in domestic violence cases, requires arrest for restraining order violations, and discourages dual arrests. 7
  In California, SB (O/Connell) passes establishing domestic violence training for court-appointed child custody evaluators. 7
  In California, SB 169 (Hayden) eliminates the option of diversion for domestic violence defendants in criminal cases. 7
  In California, SB 132 (Watson) requires law enforcement officers below the rank of supervisor who normally respond to domestic violence calls to complete an updated course on domestic violence every two years. 7
  In California, AB 878 (Rogan) is passed. The courts are allowed to issue a domestic violence restrainig order to stop stalking, annoying phone calls and the destruction of property. 7
  In California, AB 935 (Speier) passes allowing municipal court judges to issue restraining orders when superior court judges cannot respond in a timely manner. 7
  In California, SB 591 (Solis) tightens up restrictions on granting mutual restraining orders against the abuser and the survivor except under limited circumstances. 7
  In California, AB 1973 (Figueroa) prohibits health insurers and disability insurers from denying or restricting coverage to domestic violence survivors.
  In California, SB 924 (Petris) passes. The statute of limitations for personal injury actions involving domestic violence is extended to three years from the date of the last incident. 7
1996 There are over 1,200 battered women's shelters across the United States sponsored by approximately 1,800 domestic violence agencies. 3
  There are an estimated 120 to 125 shelters in California. 7
  The California Legislature targeted $1,25 million in the 1996-1997 budget for community grants for domestic violence prevention programs. 7
  To date, only 11 states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia have completely repudiated the marital rape exemption. Seven states (Lousiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah) recognize marital rape exemption unless the parties are separated. Illinois and Mississippi retain total exemptions for marital rape. In California, a husband can be prosecuted for aggravated or first degree rape, but still retains immunity from prosectuion for "lesser" attacks. 3
  In California, AB 2116 (Alby) passes allowing a reasonable cause arrest in domestic violence cases when the officer does not witness the incident. 7
  In California, SB 1876 (Solis) allows prosecutors to introduce evidence of prior acts of domestic violence against other victims as long as it occured in the last ten years and is not hearsay evidence. 7
  In California, SB 1983 (Haynes) passes. It allows local governments to notify crime victims, upon request, when a suspect/defendant is released from local jail, including bail release. 7
  In California, AB 2819 (Caldera) establishes judicial training programs for court personnel involved in domestic violence matters such as judges, commissioners and mediators. 7
  In California, AB 2170 (Knox) passes requiring suspects who violate a temporary restraining order to appear before a magistrate rather than have police cite and release the suspect. 7
  In California, AB 508 (Napolitano) fails. It would have provided for domestic violence education in schools. 7
  In California, AB 2474 (Kuehl) passes requiring judges making custody decisions to consider abuse not only against the other parent, but abuse against the current intimate partner, and abuse by a parent against any child with whom the parent has a caretaking relationship. 7
  In California, AB 2647 (Kuehl) is passed. This bill protects children from the effects of domestic violence, including giving the court the authority to remove the battering parent or guardian from the home and prohibiting visitation if it would jeopardize the safety of the child. It allows the non-offending parent to create a safety plan to protect the child from the offending parent before the child can be removed from the non-offending parent's home. Domestic violence training is required for personnel involved in such juvenile court cases. 7
  In California, AB 2155 (Kuehl) passes allowing teen victims of dating violence to seek domestic violence protective order without parental consent.
1997 O.J. Simpson is found liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman in a civil lawsuit and is ordered to pay $33 million to the families.
  In California, AB 200 (Kuehl) passes. First statement in statute that domestic violence perpetrated against a parent is detrimental to a child. All child custody statutes expressing a reference for "frequent and continuing contact with both parents" are made subject to consideration of domestic violence and child's safety.
  In California, SCR 20 (Solis) passes. October proclaimed Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
1998 In California, SB 165 (Solis) passes providing unemployment compensation for victims of domestic violence who are forced to leave work to protect themselves or their children.
  Proposition 10 - The California Children and Families First Initiative. The Act provides sustainable funding for social service programs for children ages 0-5 and their caretakers and a significant domestic violence component. The funding is provided by the tobacco tax.
  In California, SCR 63 (Solis) passes. October again proclaimned Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Purple ribbons are worn by people around the state to raise awareness around issues of domestic violence.
  Department of Health Services, Maternal and Child Health, Domestic Violence Section, conducted statewide Teen Needs Assessment in recognition of the problem of violence among youth, especially teen relationship violence.
1999 Cal WORKS - Cal WORKS Family Violence Option takes effect through county implementation plans. This option provides a legal safety net for people who are victims of relationship violence and would be eligible for Welfare. In recognition of the special needs of these survivors, this option exempts them from the timelines imposed in the Welfare-To-Work legislation and includes provision to provide supportive services such as shelter, legal, transitional living and counseling.
  In California, AB 840 (Kueh) makes it to the Governor's desk. First introduced as AB 800 in 1995, and again as AB 200 in 1997, this bill would enact a rebutttable presumption against granting custody of a child to a batterer.
  October is again Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Activities recognizing victims of domestic violence and the movement to stop domestic and family violence including The Silent Witness Project, a national demonstration using mannequins in public places to represent the many who have died at the hands of abusive partners; Take Back The Night demonstrations; the popular project for children "Hands Are Not For Hitting"; and The Clothes Line Project, a public arts demonstration in which t-shirts are hung out on clothes lines and decorated with statements about relationship abuse.
  In the 1999/2000 sessions of the California State Legislature, 14 bills were introduced on a wide variety of domestic violence related issues.


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2. Heinemann, Sue (1996). Timelines of American women's history.New York: A Roundtable Press Book/Perigee Book.
3. Lemon, Nancy (1996). Domestic violence law: A comprehensive overview of cases and sources.San Francisco, CA: Austin and Winfield.
4. Martin, Del (1976). Battered wives.New York: Pocket Books.
5. Schechter, Susan (1982). Women and male violence.Boston, MA: South End Press.
6. Slaughter, Ruth (year unknown). While Ruth was at Haven House.Pasadena, CA.
7. Sproul, Kate (1996). California's response to domestic violence.California Legislature, CA: Senate Office of Research.
The following projects are a part of the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse (MINCAVA):

MINCAVA Electronic Clearinghouse | The Link Research Project | Violence Against Women Online Resources
VAWnet (Applied Research Forum) | Minnesota Rural Project for Women and Child Safety
MINCAVA is directed by Jeffrey L. Edleson, PhD.

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