If you’ve turned on the television or even glanced at a newspaper over the past several weeks, you’ve likely seen coverage of Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back who punched his then-fiancée Janay in an elevator
. The renewed conversation about Rice’s actions and about the NFL’s reaction is a disheartening, if timely introduction to Domestic Violence Awareness Month
, which we observe in October to boost anti-violence efforts and to draw critical attention to a problem far too often swept under the rug.
With greater public attention being paid to incidences of sexual violence and violence against women – in the NFL and on college campuses
are two examples that come to mind first – what can we learn about how our culture at large understands domestic violence? It echoes harmful myths that, until not so long ago, relegated domestic violence to the private sphere
: domestic violence was a personal, private matter between spouses rather than an issue of national concern for gender equality and fundamental respect for all people. Beginning the 1980s, advocates against domestic violence were able to bring the issue to national attention for the first time, initiating cultural shift that eventually brought about passage of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
, which for the first time made domestic and sexual violence a crime under federal law.