The Sexism Behind Abuse

Many different ways have been devised for keeping women subordinated to men in patriarchal societies. Footbinding was used by the Chinese to cripple women for over a thousand years. Purdah, is the Muslim practice of secluding women from contact with men outside of the immediate family. Muslim women are to this day, are prisoners in their own homes. Clitoridectomy, the excision of the clitoris, is still practiced on millions of young, pre-puberty girls today in Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq,  Guinea and Ethiopia.


Violence against women in the form of battering in the home and rape in and outside of the home is a major issue for societies to address and stop. Violence against women has happened so often for millennia. Yet women continue to leave in fear for their lives.


Women in Japan, Netherlands, France, Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, USA and Germany began to stand up for their human rights as women in the 1970’s. There has been much done to stop the battering but we have not ended violence against women.


As women, we demand that governments recognize the existence and extent of this problem in almost every society. We demand safety for ourselves and our children. I began work in Domestic Violence in the seventies, and here in America women continue to be killed, to face daily violence, to lose their self-respect and their hope. It is very difficult to find the courage to leave an abuser when he has twisted your actions and words to manipulate and control you.


Whether the abuser is male or female, the penalty for Domestic Violence must be increased. The perpetrator must be more severely punished.


Rape is the other type of violence against women that must be stopped. Rape has nothing to do with sex. It is constructed by a man’s need to have power and control over a woman. Men in sexist societies are surrounded by sexist views and attitudes which they use to validate their actions against women.


Male violence against towards women can not be eradicated without also eradicating the unequal power relationships between the sexes. Many sociologists feel that the traditional family need to be changed. Equality within domestic relationships is very important if we are to completely eradicate violence in families. This includes violence against children.


Spanking children is abuse. Slapping them is abuse. In addition, it teaches them that at the basic level, violence is the way to deal with problems and/or behaviors we are not comfortable with. This is why abuse is found in dysfunctional families. It is passed on from one generation to another. Children in violent homes, learn how to abuse and how to be a victim. No one should be a victim, ever.


I must also speak to teenage girls. There is nothing you can do that means your boyfriend has the right to abuse, hit, batter, slap or kick you. It is his issue and not yours. Talk to your guidance counselor or doctor or your parents.

“Love is never meant to hurt. It should never leave red marks, bruises, or broken bones.”  — Barbara Mattio






The first time you are beaten is the time you should leave. Abusers do kill women.

The first time you are beaten is the time you should leave. Abusers do kill women.



October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

7 thoughts on “The Sexism Behind Abuse

  1. gillswriting says:

    Female genital mutilation a big issue here too. I just cannot get my head around it. As always a pertinent and needed post. Keep them coming. At least I know we teach the boys at our “school” what is and what is not acceptable re violence against girls even though many witness abuse in the home. MY hope is they will carry our messages onto the next generation. slowly slowly we will make a difference. xxx

  2. claire says:

    I’m trying to remember which country it was I lived in that rape was virtually unknown – the reason? I found it carried the death penalty! (I wouldn’t suggest that but it shows stiffer penalties work.)
    Sadly also police are limited in how much they can intervene until a crime is committed thus its harder to prevent extreme abuse.

    • Thank you very much for your comment. Actually, the police are not limited once a person is slapped, punched, kicked, pushed and shoved, threatened with murder or raped. Even marital rape is a crime. Today in America, a woman is battered every 11 seconds according to the FBI stats. More women are killed trying to leave a violent relationship than at any other time in the abusive relationship.This was good feedback and we may save someones life. Hugs, Barbara

  3. inavukic says:

    Women must keep on fighting to pursue greater slice of employment market for sometimes I believe that the financial “dependency” on the man women often have in relationships makes it hard for them to leave their abuser (?). Generally, equality does tend to dampen the power of the abuser or would be abuser. Shocking occurrences in some cultures and religions to do with women

    • Yes, Ina, you are absolutely right. Equality is the answer as well as education and safe options for women and children. Raising our girls to be self-continent and having good support systems will help a lot also. Hugs, Barbara

  4. Rajagopal says:

    socially relevant post barbara , as gender abuse is still an issue in many parts of the world . change , though slow and gradual , is bound to fall in place with increased empowerment of women through education and attaining financial independence .

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