Secret Victim Next Door


(Published in Ms Magazine, 1976 Summer Edition)

Husband: “I am going to kill you and you know I can do it too, didn’t you?”

Victim: “Yes”

The accused laid the butcher knife down on the table and tuned around and hit the victim on the face with his fist and knocked victim to the floor… Victim stated she blacked out… Victim stated when she regained consciousness, the accused was still beating her.   (File #41 Complaint #13626, July 1974, Washtenaw County Sheriff Department, Ann Arbor, Michigan)

During the 1970s, second wave feminists have increasingly written about violence against women in various contexts. Rape and domestic violence are often the topics that they have focused on the most, and they often appear in articles written by second wave feminist writers at the same time. The simultaneous occurrence of those two forms of violence in those articles is due to the fact that rape and domestic violence share similar root, which is the patriarchal controlling power. Men have been relying on their supremacy of physical strengths to secure their superior hierarchy with respect to women, and when they feel like their superior status is threatened by women, they use violence.

“According to those hegemonic feminists, domestic violence is considered a brutal expression of patriarchy that is found in the family institution. Thus, in the family”, siting Pilar Rodriguez Martinez in her essay Feminism and Violence: The Hegemonic Second Wave’s Encounter with Rape and Domestic Abuse in USA (1970-1985).

Similar to the way people have been treating rape victims, assaulted wives have been “convinced that their ordeal is freakish shameful – or their own fault”, and therefore, “she is indeed a ‘worthy’ victim.”




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