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Domestic abuse in the United States is a large-scale and complex social and health problem The family is perhaps the most violent group with the home being the most violent American institution or setting today Sadly enough the majority of people who are murdered are not likely killed by a stranger during a hold-up or similar crime but are killed by someone they know Not surprisingly the Center for Disease Control and prevention has identified interpersonal violence as a major public health problem Herman 1997 Current estimates suggest that three to four million women are the victims of physical abuse by their intimate partners Herman 1997 According to the FBI some form of domestic violence occurs in half of the homes in the United States at least once a year Walker 1984 In reality in one out of every six marriages the wife is physically abused Every fifteen seconds a women is battered in the United States Daily four American women lose their lives to th eir husbands or boyfriends equaling more than one-third of all female homicide victims National Institute of Justice 1996 These numbers report that too much violence is directed toward women Historically domestic violence has been downplayed and oftentimes culturally condoned in America In the colonial period laws derived from English common-law permitted a man to beat his wife when she acted in a manner that he believed to be inappropriate For example the so-called Rule of Thumb law which permitted a husband to beat his wife with a stick that could be no larger than the circumference of his thumb was in effect until the end of the nineteenth century Walker 1984 The issue of domestic violence especially wife abuse first gained national attention in 1974 with the publishing of Scream Quietly or the Neighbors Will Hear by Erin Pizzey the founder of Chiswicks Womens Aid a shelter in England for battered women Pizzeys work helped to stimulate feminist concern
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