Intimate partner violence and homicide
Date of this Version
Violence between partners is not a new phenomenon, although attitudes towards it have changed considerably over time. As early as the 8th century B.C., the laws of marriage in Rome stated that a husband had the right to control and punish his wife as he saw fit, including killing her if necessary (Hirschel & Hutchinson, 1992; Stedman, 1917). This view remained for centuries in Europe and was adopted by the church, which subsequently brought the acceptance of spousal abuse to the New World (Hirschel & Hutchinson, 1992). After the mid 1800's, courts began to reject the right of men to physically abuse their wives, but upheld their right to physically punish them as long as it left no permanent injury. Courts believed that this moderate violence was a private matter that should be left in the home, outside of the law (Taub, 1983). This selective attention to the issue, although no longer completely held in a legal sense, has remained.
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