Susan Rosanthal’s article “Capitalism, Alienation and the Family” (February SR) is useful in lifting the lid on the reality of abuse within the family. Many will welcome recognition of their experience of violent and abusive relationships.
However, I don’t think she does justice here to women’s experience of oppression in her analysis of domestic violence. She tells us more women than men experience severe violence from an intimate partner, but also quotes a study which found that men and women face the same risk of violence from an intimate partner.
Susan explains the role of the family in structuring women’s oppression in her January article. This is why women take the brunt of breakdowns within the family. Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show 28 percent of women have experienced some form of domestic abuse since the age of 16. Women in the poorest households are three times more likely to be abused than those in higher income families. Rape Crisis reports that 28 percent of women who are victims of the most serious sexual offences never tell anyone about it, fearing they will not be believed.
It is also worth noting that Rape Crisis does recognise that men can be victims of violence from female partners.
Women’s oppression also explains why men who experience violence from a female partner are ridiculed. The underlying idea is that they “can’t control their wives”. It is important that socialists continue to clearly counter the claim that women are no longer oppressed. Austerity means the closure of women’s refuges and lack of social housing which traps women in relationships with violent partners.