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OUR BODIES, OURSELVES READING ROOM
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Ending Violence Against Women:
No Woman Is Safe Until All of Us Are Safe

Over the past 25 years, we have directed our collective outrage and concern into many kinds of action opposing violence against women.

  • We organized consciousness-raising groups and discovered that our experiences of dominance by men were common and shared.

  • We demanded that the public listen to us by demonstrating in large groups; holding public speakouts; and creating films, radio and TV shows, street theater, dramatic productions, books, pamphlets, newspapers, and articles.

  • We set up educational programs for thousands of law enforcement and health professionals.
  • In 1974, a group of feminists doing legal aid work in St. Paul, Minnesota, opened Women's House, the first U.S. refuge for battered women and their children. Current estimates suggest that there are more than 1,000 hot lines, shelters, and programs for battered women. Many states have formed coalitions to bring people together who work on these issues. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault both have memberships of over 500 agencies and focus on public awareness and social change.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

Toward an Understanding of Male Violence Against Women

Race, Class, and Violence Against Women

Blaming the Victim

Sexual Harassment

Domestic Violence

Sexual Assault

Incest and Sexual Abuse of Children

The Sex Industry

Defending Ourselves Against Violence

Ending Violence Against Women

Notes

Resources

  • Neighborhood groups have formed networks of refuges, called safe-house or green- light programs because participating homes are identified by green lights, where women harassed or attacked in the streets can find safety.
  • We learned from feminists in other countries. The 1976 Tribunal of Crimes Against Women, held in Brussels and attended by women from all over the world, expanded the definition of violence against women to include dowry murders* and genital mutilation. European feminists inspired both safe houses and "Take Back the Night" marches, which rally thousands of women yearly in cities across the United States to protest violence against women.
  • Beginning in the 1970s, when the first state laws to protect women from abuse were enacted, we have worked diligently for improved legal responses to violence against women. The passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 marked the first major attempt by the federal government to influence the enactment of strong state laws related to violence against women and to fund efforts to improve services, prosecution, law enforcement, prevention efforts, and community collaboration.

  • At the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, violence against women was identified as one of the most pressing concerns of women worldwide.

  • In the 1990s, women from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, began the Clothesline Project, a visual display of violence against women based on shirts made by survivors. The first national display bringing together all of the clothesline projects occurred in Washington, DC, in 1995.

  • Men who have committed themselves to working to end violence against women have begun to form groups in which men help batterers deal with their violence. Recognizing that men who do not take action support the system that promotes violence against women, they talk about their socialization in relation to women, question the extent and consequences of male dominance, and listen to and respect the women around them.

We must continue to express a vision for a violence-free world loudly and clearly. We must work to maintain a strong network of services by and for women who have survived violence.

We will continue to teach our daughters to expect equality for themselves and others. We will continue to teach our sons to question sexism and reject violence, to respect women as equals, and to work against all systems that are based on concepts of dominance. We will continue to support one another in protecting ourselves with ingenuity, strength, and pride. We applaud women who say no to male violence, who offer support to a friend, who protect one another, and who survive.

 

Copyright 1984, 1992, 1998 by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective. All rights reserved. Published by Touchstone, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.

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