“As class sizes have increased and more and more of our graduates have chosen professions dedicated to helping victims of intimate violence, there are moments when we muse about the day when books like this will no longer need to be written. We try to imagine what it would be like for women to be able to walk down a street at night without worrying about the footsteps behind them. What would it be like to be alone with nature, with a beautiful full moon overhead, and feel serene? We contemplate what the world would be like if there were no longer a reason to tell women that they must stay vigilant to the possibility of abduction and assault. What would it be like to walk down the street of any city alone and be able to look men in the eye, smile, and be friendly without being misunderstood? How would it feel to wear the clothing one wanted and not feel self-conscious about the possible responses of men? We wonder how society would change if the prevalence of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and other crimes against women radically decreased. What would it be like to negotiate our way through the world and not have to worry about the possibility of being the victim of intrusive stares, harassment, “peeping Toms,” exhibitionists, fondling, and unwanted physical and sexual battery? To what extent would the levels of depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, sexual dysfunction, and numerous medical disorders decrease if the sexual abuse of children became nonexistent? For brief moments, we enjoy our vision of what it would be like to live in such a world. Then we come crashing back to reality.”

Lundberg-Love, Paul K. and Shelly L. Marmion. 2006. “Preface.” Pp. vii-x in “Intimate” Violence against Women: When Spouses, Partners, or Lovers Attack, edited by P. K. L. and S. L. Marmion. Westport, CT: Praeger. [Pp. vii-viii.]

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7 thoughts on “Preface to “Intimate” Violence against Women

  1. I think that at least the “depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders” are more manifestations of improperly developed social identities… which could obviously be contributed to by sexual abuse experienced as a child, but would certainly exist regardless. AKA: If I were editor, I would strike that sentence as it is quite reductionistic and, frankly, off topic. Aside from that, this is just about the most depressing thing ever. Thanks! :/

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    1. The authors aren’t saying these dis/orders would be non-existent, but wondering how much they would decrease if childhood sexual abuse decreased. Also, childhood sexual abuse is a form of intimate violence, so I don’t think it’s off-topic either. Finally, these are the editors of the book, you can tell in the reference at the bottom.

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      1. Sometimes editors need editors. Or second opinions, at least. However, it may sound more appropriate in the whole context. As it is in your excerpt here, it does sound out of place. They are talking about women, but then switch to children without tying women’s fears to experiences they may have had as children. Yes, this is another form of intimate violence, but takes the conversation into a whole other direction. Intimate violence against women is a gender issue. It is institutional sexism and needs to be addressed at the societal level. Child sexual abuse is generally not gendered until the child reaches puberty. It is a problem which is far more prevalent than we would like to think, but it is not borne of the same sort of institutional sexism and will not be responsive to the same sorts of interventions that we would employ for violence against women.

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        1. I disagree because perpetrators are overwhelmingly — and almost exclusively — male, both as perpetrators of childhood sexual violence and sexual offences more generally, regardless of the child’s age, which is most definitely a gender issue because, again, perpetrators are overwhelmingly male.

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          1. It’s not a matter of who the perpetrators are, but the rationale behind the perpetration & the gender of the victim. Like I mentioned, though, it may make more sense in the larger context, especially if an argument is made that boys who are sexually assaulted overwhelmingly grow up to be perpetrators of intimate violence (which would not be an entirely unreasonable argument).

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            1. That could be one argument but it’s not a really strong one because girls and women are sexually assaulted more than boys and males, and still, males are overwhelmingly the perpetrators. So yes, it is a matter of looking at the perpetrators, and why you would *not* look at the “larger context” in cases of childhood sexual violence but *would* for cases of intimate partner violence makes no sense.

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              1. I think you’re confusing what I am saying. I mean “larger context” in the sense of reading that particular sentence in context of the entirety of the introduction & the book, itself.

                And yes, males are overwhelmingly more often the perpetrators of sexual violence. What I am saying, though, is that those who sexually assault or otherwise perpetrate intimate violence against women are generally not the same ones who sexually assault children. Therefore, if we are talking about working to reduce intimate violence against women, then sexual assault of children is largely irrelevant UNLESS you are saying that 1) women who are sexually assaulted as children are often targeted for intimate violence when they grow up (which is true, but still those women are a subset of the problem of intimate violence against women, in general), or 2) boys who are sexually assaulted as children grow up to perpetrate acts of intimate violence against women (which may or may not be true; from what I understand, the trauma of childhood sexual assault in boys can manifest itself in a number of different ways).

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