Domestic Violence and the Right to Choice

By Claire, Communications Intern

The assault on women’s bodies is not just the metaphor we use to explain the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the potential restrictions placed on abortion services.  The idea that women should be forced to carry pregnancies to term against their wills as incubators is just one aspect of the patriarchal ideology that dehumanizes and supports ill-treatment of women.

Domestic violence also known as intimate partner violence is another aspect.  This is real, physical violence upon women’s bodies.  Just as women are blamed for their abortions and for their rapes, they are blamed and ignored for any physical abuse upon them or their children.  73 women died in North Carolina alone in 2010 because the justice system of North Carolina is not protecting women.

Christine Maxa-Gross was just one woman who died.  She was murdered in her home in front of her 9-year-old son by an ex-boyfriend with a decade-long record of violence and abuse towards women among other crimes.   Despite all the time he was in court on counts of abuse against Christine and other women, nothing was done to insure he could not hurt anyone anymore.   As her brother-in-law, Michael Marlier, writes charges were repeatedly dismissed by the district attorney.   Christine Maxa-Gross is dead because women are not respected in our judicial system.

Christine was a woman who walked away from her abuser.  She was not one of the countless women who suffered in silence too afraid to even call the cops or leave for a shelter.  If the justice system won’t even protect women as strong and brave as Christine, what will happen to the women who are so abused and scared for their lives they are frozen in their situations?  What will happen to the children like Christine’s son who watch their mothers hurt and die?

Domestic violence, sexual violence and assault, and lack of respect for women’s bodily autonomy is all a part of the same system of patriarchal oppression.  It is a system that treats women as objects for pleasure, service and incubation.  It is a system that tells men it is okay to take out their frustration and anger on weaker individuals.  It is a system that teaches men that aggression is the only emotion to show and that it doesn’t need to be controlled.  It is a system that denies women the same rights over their bodies in the name of reproductive control.  We trust our women to raise our children but we can’t trust them to choose if they want children.

As we support women’s right to choose we also have to protect women’s rights to not be abused and hurt by their partners.  The only way we as women can be free is if we are protected against the real and metaphoric violence against our own bodies.

In the word’s of Michael Marlier, “If you suspect your loved ones, neighbors, friends or acquaintances are victims of domestic violence, please don’t stay silent when you hear the arguing and fighting.

Trust your instincts and call the police or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233.” 

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