Community & Government

Breaking the Cycle Of Violence

Gloria examines violence as a function of hierarchy and speaks to the importance of democratizing families in order to achieve democracy at large.

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Topics include: Content Warning: This chapter discusses sensitive material related to domestic violence. Breaking the Cycle of Violence A Silent Epidemic Breaking the Cycle Codifying Our Rights


- I think that violence in the home doesn't occupy as much space as public violence because we have so divided into public and private that we think whatever goes on in the home is separate and not our business. But, in fact, that's what normalizes violence everywhere else. We are going to continue to have all kinds of violence at a national level until we eliminate it at a home family level. [SOFT MUSIC] Violence is a function of the idea of hierarchy. So wherever hierarchy exists or has been internalized, there may be violence. It is true that violence in the home is a greater determinant of violence everywhere else because it normalizes the idea so early in our lives that violence is an OK or inevitable way of solving conflict. It's the idea of hierarchy and graduated worth that is the problem plus the notion that violence can ever solve anything. It doesn't. So we are never going to have a democratic nation until we have democratic families. Domestic violence is way more prevalent than one believes. And statistically, the most dangerous place for a woman is in her own home. And a woman is way more likely to be killed by someone she knows than by a stranger. - At least 25% of all cis women and 40% of all queer people experience violence from their partners. The numbers take on more significance when we look at the consequences-- the number of trips to the emergency room related to domestic violence and sexual assault, the women and trans people who lose days of work or school because they've been assaulted, the children sent to foster care because their parents can't protect them, the physical injury that results in many cases in permanent disability, the suicide attempts and substance abuse, depression, mental health consequences, the women who don't vote, who don't participate in community organizations, who aren't able to take care of their aging parents because they're controlled and afraid. GLORIA STEINEM: The root cause of violence is the need to control others. And in the home, the hierarchy is often patriarchal. That is, fathers, grandfathers, older brothers tend to be in control more than the females in the household. And that is an obvious mirroring of patriarchy. LESLIE MORGAN STEINER: Over 85% of abusers are men. And domestic abuse happens only in intimate interdependent long-term relationships, in other words, in families. The man who I loved more than anybody on Earth held a gun to my head and threatened to kill me more times than I can even remember. Conor beat me once or twice a week for the next 2 and 1/2 years of our marriage. GLORIA STEINEM: Within the hierarchy of the household, those who are dependent become the focus of violence. Women, children, and the elderly are at a greater risk of abuse. [TENSE MUSIC] In situations of domestic violence, because they are about control, statistically the most dangerous time for a woman is just before or just after she escape...

About the Instructor

Women’s rights activists and political changemakers Gloria Steinem, adrienne maree brown, Amanda Nguyen, and Tina Tchen know there’s strength in numbers—especially in the fight for equality. Now, they’re coming together to dissect the issues women have faced in the U.S., talk about their advocacy efforts and personal challenges, and introduce ways you can play an active role in the feminist movement in your everyday life.

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Gloria Steinem, adrienne maree brown, Amanda Nguyen, and Tina Tchen

Four women’s rights activists discuss the feminist movement in the U.S., ways they’re creating change, and how you can join the fight for equality.

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