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What Used To Be

What Used To Be

*A reflection piece by Maria Ontiveros, one of AAFS’s domestic violence case workers. 

In the lives of many women of the past, a healthy relationship, equality in the relationship, and fair treatment was never an option. In fact, many were taught that they were merely housewives, sabotaging their opportunities to learn, study a profession, or be independent women if that was what they wanted to be!

In patriarchal systems of previous societies, women were raised or taught to obey men and to do as their husbands “said so” or as I always say “as their husband demands”. If women would dare to speak back to men, they would be beaten as punishment. Females had no rights, no word, or no opportunities in both their relationships and their life, which lead to what we now know as domestic violence!

Such oppression “used to be” the norm for most women-

It used to be- that women had to obey their husband’s cruel and oppressive demands! Rarely would a woman find a loving, caring, and supportive husband who would exercise equality and fairness in the relationship.

It used to be- that a woman getting married meant having to live her their husband for the rest of her life, “for better or for worst.” Often this meant the better for their husband, and the worst for the wife and children!

It used to be- that education or trade school were not meant for women because women were raised only to look after their house and kids.

It used to be- that a husband’s role was to go to work or make a living while the wife was expected to stay at home. Women were not allowed to even work outside their homes!

It used to be- that if a wife wouldn’t follow the husbands lead, or would try to speak up for her rights, she would be beaten as a punishment by law!

Things used to be this way. But today, things are different. Today, women have more rights than ever in this country and the resources to seek help when these rights are being violated.

So the question stands. If things used to be this way, why do they continue? And even more critical to think about, why should they continue?

Let’s keep moving forward.


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