Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law

A brief history of domestic violence laws

Domestic violence is the use of abuse, violence, and intimidation between people who are in an intimate relationship or those who have been spouses previously. The violent perpetrator does so to dominate and control the other person. 

These actions cause phycological and physical harm. It is a violation of human rights. Domestic violence also includes sexual, physical assault, verbal abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse, social and spiritual abuse. 

Before the mid-1800s, the legal systems did not punish mean who physically abused their wives. However, according to the Body of Liberties of the Massachusetts Bay colonists, women would not have any bodily correction or stripes from the husband. Tennessee was the first state in 1850 to enact laws dealing with the physical abuse of spouses. Soon after, other countries followed suit. 

In the UK, the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1878 allowed buttered women to seek separation from their abusive husbands. By the 1870s, courts opposed the right of husbands to discipline their wives physically. By the 20th century, the police were intervening in domestic violence cases, although arrests were rare. In 1920, it officially became illegal for husbands to abuse their wives in the US. 

All the modern attention to the abuse of women in relationships began in the 1970s with women rights activists and feminists. 

However, violence is not just about women. The Men’s movement of the 1990s also brought to the attention of the public the numerous domestic abuse cases against men. Although not many men come forward to report instances of violence, the authorities are vigilant against any abuse in homes.