Millions of women and children have died or have been severely injured because of domestic violence. Domestic violence is illegal and includes assault, rape, battery, and murder committed by someone to whom the victim is close to. This could be a relative, parent, child, spouse, or dating partner. Although both men and women can be abused, 85% victims are women. There are many causes of modern domestic violence, but most fall into four categories: sexual abuse, financial abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse. The impacts of domestic violence are yet to be understood. The history of domestic violence has changed the way its many different types are perceived, leaving long lasting scars on everyone it affects.
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The Nineteenth Amendment, which was passed on August 18, 1910, prohibited states from denying citizens the right to vote based on gender (Curry). This amendment helped women gain a certain measure of legal and political equality, but the conditions were not much favorable for women in this time. Many of them lacked the sufficient economic and social resources to escape domestic violence that still haunted them. It is unlikely that the number of domestic violence incidents decreased over the following decades. After this amendment, the Civil Rights movement took hold of the nation and changed domestic violence as it was known.
The Civil Rights movement paved the way to the emergence of modern feminism (Birmingham). In 1964 a landmark Civil Rights Act was passed that protected citizens against discrimination in housing, employment, and education based on gender or race. VAWA (Violence Against Women Act), the first federal legislation to provide legal remedies for domestic violence was passed in 1994. Cases such as DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, United States v. Morrison, and State v. Jesse Black ensured that protection against domestic violence is a civil right, but the disputes over the private and public dimensions of domestic violence have continued into the 21st century (Curry). Today, about “9 million couples, or one in six marriages, experience some form of intimate partner violence” (Birmingham).