Although an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner, for many years, domestic violence was rarely spoken about. It was one of those awful situations that was often kept behind closed doors, especially in patriarchal societies. People associated with domestic violence were typically believed to be lower class and a minority crime, but domestic violence can affect any race, class situation, or gender.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes. Women did not have a safe place to turn to in the United States until 1973 when the first battered women’s shelter opened in St. Paul, Minnesota, by the Women’s Advocates. Since 1973 the movement against domestic violence has grown. Pennsylvania was the first state to establish a coalition against domestic violence, and was also the first state to pass legislation providing for orders of protection from abuse for survivors of domestic violence. By 1979 The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence was formed, and over 250 shelters for survivors of domestic violence were established in the United States.
The history of domestic violence has made many improvements since the 1970s. Although typically thought of men abusing women, domestic violence survivors and abusers can take many forms. In recent news, Hope Solo, the two time Olympic soccer gold medalist and player with the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League was accused of domestic violence on June 21st, 2014. Police were called to Solo’s home in Kirkland, Washington after receiving calls that there was an issue at her home. Police found Solo’s 17-year-old nephew and sister with injuries, and Solo intoxicated, as well as upset. Solo was arrested and charged with two counts of fourth-degree domestic violence assault. In court Solo pleaded not guilty and was released without bail, until her next court appearance August 11th. Although both of her relatives had injuries, her lawyers claim Solo was not the abuser.
Although domestic violence is typically thought of between men and women, domestic violence takes on many forms, such as the case of Hope Solo and her family. Domestic violence has made many improvements and achievements, but still has a long way to go in order to end the cycle of abuse.
The above article was written by Katherine Toll, Summer law clerk at The Law office of Diana C. Schimmel, Esqurie. Kate is a student at Franklin and Marshall College, studying Sociology and English. She recently interned at Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster. Kate has an interest in family law, humans rights, and child advocacy. When she is not working Kate enjoys yoga, tennis, and reading.