Randal W. Summers and Allan M. Hoffman
Domestic violence is not a new phenomenon associated with modern times. It has been a common occurrence throughout history. From a social/cultural point of view, the woman was considered the property of the man and his duty was to discipline her and the children (and slaves/servants) with thorough beatings. Consistent with eighteenth-century English common law, the only concerns about this related to the thickness of the stick that the law allowed for the beatings. Although there were some earlier unenforced laws against spousal abuse, it was only as recently as the 1970s that the U.S. justice system began to view the problem with any seriousness and consideration of domestic violence as a crime. Until that time, social services for the victims of domestic violence were almost nonexistent.
There have been considerable viewpoints and definitions of violence that occurs within the family context. For example, family violence encompasses not only violence between female and male partners or same sex partners but also child abuse, elder abuse, and sibling abuse. However, domestic violence, more specifically, refers to the abuse by one person of another in an intimate relationship. These relationships can be comprised of marriage partners, partners living together, dating relationships (Berry, 1998), and