1970s to Now: How Far Have We Really Come?

While sifting through my scrapbook focused largely on the late 70s, early 80s, I am lead to thinking about the political atmosphere at hand here during the late 70s, early 80s. I stumble upon an ad for a brochure that promises to shed light on the rape culture and educate to reform society regarding this issue. It seems surprising to me that there would be an ad for a brochure about rape in a magazine. Aren’t there brochures readily available at a myriad of locations in any town? After some research, my naive question has been answered. Not only was talk about rape frequently kept hush hush during the 70s, domestic violence was an issue that was largely gleaned over. It remained largely unrecognized in legal, medical, and social spheres of the time. Literature on “wife abuse” was nonexistent. The literature that did exist on “wife abuse” painted a picture of a woman provoking her own abuse. When it did occur, it was said that it was due to a mental illness or some sort of psychological disorder. Dismissing the potential for domestic violence seemed to be the norm in the 70s. With no statistics, there was no verification of the problem and in turn no legal or medical protocols on how to effectively respond to a situation of domestic abuse.

Thinking about domestic violence now, I am saddened that, while we have made many strides forward, it seems that there is still so much that needs to be done. While domestic violence is no longer a private issue or one that is regarded with humor as it was in the 70s, there is still an epidemic in our society of lacking the facts about domestic violence. I recently asked my friends how prevalent they thought domestic violence was. Their answers showed me just how little people actually think about domestic violence as a serious problem facing women in our society. Realistically, if I weren’t a social work major and didn’t do various projects about domestic violence I wouldn’t think it was as prevalent either. It is troubling to me that the facts are so few and far between in the mainstream media about domestic violence. Why is this the way it is? Why are people so uneducated in domestic violence? We know it is something that cuts across economic, racial, and age lines and crawls into the homes of anybody. Why do we think its not as big of an issue as it is? We have come so far from the 70s yet we still have leaps and bounds to go.

I worked at a battered women’s shelter this summer. In the 70s, a battered women’s shelter wasn’t a service available. These women had minimal resources to turn to and essentially no law to shield and protect them. Today, there are laws like the Violence Against Women Act as well as the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act that protect in situations like these. Is that enough? Do these laws serve their purpose? That is what I am going to explore further.

Posted 27th September 2016 by Lexi Miller