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9.0 HISTORY OF ABUSE -- TYPES AND CATEGORIES OF ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR

==== History of Abuse

During the last 100 years or so, society has begun to recognize and deal with abusive behavior. Much of this had been tolerated until the 20th century. Men were allowed to beat their wives and children, for example. These were often considered a man's property that he could deal with in just about any manner he chose.

The views began to change a bit in the 19th century, however, according to most accounts men still had a free hand. For example, in 1874, the North Carolina Supreme Court gave its opinion: '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."

Aside from beatings, other abusive behavior was simply invisible. For example, child sexual abuse has almost certainly been around for centuries and yet virtually all families chose to pretend it did not exist. Verbal and emotional abuse, I believe, were often given the label of 'stern' or 'strict' as though men who engaged in these abuses had some underlying virtue. At worst such a person would be called difficult.

The understanding of abuse is closely tied to women's equality. In the 20th century when women got the vote and became more equal in the eyes of the law, abusive behavior of all kinds began to be recognized.

Yet we are still learning and will continue to learn of the various insidious ways abuse is ingrained in our culture.

For example, when a young child was beaten in 1874, there were no laws to protect the girl. The only help came from ASPCA, The Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Since the child was considered an animal she was able to get assistance. Almost 100 years later in 1968, the book, The Battered Child by Kempe and Helfe, was published which detailed physical abuse to children and raised public awareness. And yet it was still another 20 years before the sexual abuse of children began to be recognized.

See the next page for examples of abuse that is just being understood today.

=== A Detailed History Of Women's Legal Rights
=== Timeline of Women's Rights
=== Women's History in America
=== History of Child Abuse


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