A Collective History of the Fight Against Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it still feels very much like we need this time to highlight the serious problem of violence within intimate relationships. But one thing we can say about the 2020s is that, at the very least, we now recognize that domestic violence is a violent, serious problem. There was a time when domestic abuse was hidden behind closed doors, and considered a private matter. But there were groups of women who set about to change that in the 70s, and while the problem has obviously not been solved, they helped bring us to the point where we are today. And now we can shine a light on the problem and continue to work towards changing things. 

Putting a Name to a Problem

Domestic violence, or domestic or intimate partner abuse, is by no means a new problem: in fact, it’s probably one of the oldest problems plaguing modern humanity. But the, well, problem was that we didn’t recognize it as a “problem.” Up until the 1970s, domestic violence was virtually ignored by the legal and medical professions, and by society in general. If the subject did come up in a scholarly way, it was usually briefly mentioned in a journal of psychiatry, as a rare occurrence that was due to a psychological disorder. And often, it was written about as something that was women’s fault, something that they somehow “provoked.”

woman looking down with a fist over her head

And outside of the scholarly world, society at large generally saw violence against women in the home as a private matter, something that should stay behind closed doors. That meant police and medical professionals were reluctant to get involved. And, just as horrifyingly, it was also seen as a joking matter. Popular cartoons and TV shows made what were meant to be lighthearted references to hitting wives; another disturbing example is an ad for a Michigan bowling alley that sported the big, bold pun: “HAVE SOME FUN. BEAT YOUR WIFE TONIGHT.”

So the pre-1970s world was a time when violence against women was not recognized as a problem, even if it did exist, and so there was almost no help to be had. The idea of the category of an “abused woman” looking for help did not exist, and even the few and nonspecific resources for people who were in crisis and unhoused were completely inadequate. For example, in the early 1970s in Los Angeles, there were homeless shelters that provided 1000 beds for men, and only 30 for women.

There were no resources for women who were suffering, and they weren’t even afforded the dignity of having their suffering recognized. But then the world began to change, and women took matters into their own hands.

The Activism and Organizations that Began to Change Things

We can give much of the credit for changing the seemingly hopeless situation laid out above to the women involved in the feminist movement of the 1970s. They saw the 2-4 million women who were beaten in their homes annually (in fact, many of the women in the early “battered women’s movement” were survivors of domestic abuse themselves) and took up the banner at a time when women were agitating for change. 

In the mid-1970s, these feminist activists and survivors organized under the banner “We will not be beaten,” and launched a nationwide campaign to expose what was really going on – as well as to demand change from law enforcement, the medical profession, and all of society.

Demanding is one thing, and taking matters into your hands and finding practical solutions is another. These women also set out to do that, in addition to trying to change policy and get the attention of people in power. They set out to create support networks and shelters for abused women, and they were admirably successful. Between 1975 and 1978, more than 170 battered women’s shelters opened across the country; by 1978, there were over 300 shelters, hotlines, and groups advocating for abused women. 

Many of these initiatives were started by collectives of women. They include: 

Women Against Abuse 2 phones with text bubbles coming out of them

This organization was started in 1976 as a part-time domestic violence hotline in a neighborhood women’s center. Based on what they heard from the women who called in, they worked to open an emergency shelter in 1977. This shelter started out in a small row home, and despite no publicity, was filled to over capacity overnight. WAB eventually expanded to a space given by the city of Philadelphia, and also began to offer legal support. They have only continued to expand their services since then, and are still going strong.

Chicago Abused Women Coalition

Now known as Connections for Abused Women and Their Children, CAWC began after a kitchen-table meeting in 1976 to address the problem of domestic violence. This one meeting formed a task form that created the first domestic violence program in Chicago, which eventually became a hotline and an emergency shelter. They are also still going strong; in 2018 alone, they provided over 30,000 hours of domestic violence services.

Women’s Advocates

Known by many as the first shelter for women and their children escaping domestic abuse, Women’s Advocates was formed as a collective-based nonprofit in 1972. They operated out of a legal assistance office, then one of the founding volunteers’ homes, then in a rented office space. It began essentially as a divorce rights information line – a number for women to call to get legal information and advice about leaving their abusive partners. But the volunteers soon realized that the biggest obstacle for these women was the lack of a safe place to stay. So they decided to write letters asking friends, family, and members of the community for funds in order to purchase a permanent shelter. And within two years, they had collected enough funds to make a down payment on a house in St. Paul, Minnesota. According to their website, “Today, Women’s Advocates provides shelter and services for up to 50 victim-survivors and their children daily, conducts crisis interventions and safety referrals via the crisis line daily, and educates students and professionals about domestic abuse awareness, prevention and services.

And the above three organizations are just a few examples of the collective organizations that came from women, for women. Others, to name just a few, include:

  • First Step (Wayne County, MI)
  • Women & Children First: The Center Against Family Violence (Little Rock, AK)
  • The Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
  • Partnership Against Domestic Violence (Atlanta, GA)
  • Austin Center for Battered Women

The hard work of the women who fought against domestic violence, and those who started these organizations, did pay off, and they did get a whole lot of attention for their cause. In fact, according to activist Susan Schechter in her account of the battered women’s movement, by the early 1980s, “in contrast to just one decade earlier, battered women are no longer invisible.” Thanks to them, we have hotlines, shelters, other resources, and a name for what is happening to far too many women.

But Schechter, and anyone who has their eyes open, would agree that we need to keep going.

Where We Are Todaydomestic violence stats infographic

While the work that the women of the late 20th century did was crucial and monumental, we’re still nowhere near where we need to be. Considering that it took until the 1990s to get an act passed by Congress to address violence against women (the 1994 Violence Against Women Act), it can often feel like women are still not really being heard. And the statistics surrounding domestic violence are still staggering. 

Consider the following stats from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 

  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
  • 1 in 7 women and 1 in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence (e.g. beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
  • 1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner.
  • Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.

Fortunately, thanks to a lot of hard work by a lot of women both past and present, we can name this violence, and we can fight back against stigma and indifference. But there’s no denying that domestic violence is still a problem. So let’s get aware, not just this month but every month, and lend our support to organizations both old and new that are still working hard to combat this very real problem. 

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

A Guide To Dealing With Complex PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that is often triggered by witnessing or experiencing something terrible. Almost 8% of the population will experience PTSD at some point in their life. But now a newer classification of PTSD has emerged that is meant to separate a more intense version of PTSD, called complex PTSD, or CTPSD. This type of PTSD, which can be caused by repeated trauma over months and years rather than by a single event, has become more widely recognized by doctors in recent years. Dealing with complex PTSD can be more complicated than dealing with non-complex PTSD, and while mental health professionals are still undecided about the best course of treatment, there are things that can be done.

Causes of Complex PTSD

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is thought to be caused by chronic or prolonged exposure to many traumatic experiences, as opposed to one single traumatic event. “It’s the concentration camp, the person in a bomb shelter in Syria, the soldier in war or child suffering sexual or physical abuse. It’s happening to you, or you’re witnessing it,” says Dr. Robert Shulman, associate chair of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center.

There are various types of traumatic events that can cause complex PTSD, including:

woman with bruises looking at a man who's grabbing her neck

  • Ongoing domestic violence or abuse
  • Childhood abuse, neglect, or abandonment
  • Being a prisoner of war
  • Torture
  • Kidnapping
  • Repeatedly witnessing violence or abuse
  • Being forced or manipulated into prostitution


Complex post-traumatic stress disorder will often have similar symptoms to PTSD, along with some additional symptoms, such as:

  • Unwanted repeated flashbacks or nightmares of the event or events.
  • Difficulty controlling your emotions.
  • Avoiding friendships and relationships, or finding them very difficult.
  • A need to avoid triggers that will remind you of traumatic events.
  • Feeling like nobody can understand what happened to you.
  • Feeling as if you are permanently damaged or worthless.
  • Reactive symptoms such as difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  • Reckless behavior.
  • Feelings of detachment from others.
  • Feelings of anger, sadness, fear, guilt, or shame.

“People have severe difficulty with emotional regulation, self-image and sustaining personal relationships that are not fully captured by a PTSD diagnosis,” says Dr. Thomas Neylan, director of the PTSD Clinic at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a professor of psychiatry at the University of California—San Francisco.


The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has not yet developed any recommendations specifically for complex PTSD. The standard treatment used for regular PTSD can be helpful, but people with complex PTSD need more long-term, intensive support. Treatment  might include:2 chairs facing each other in an office

  • Talk therapy, or psychotherapy
  • Skills training, which can help  manage strong emotions and triggers
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR, involves directing eye movements while talking about traumatic experiences.
  • Medication
  • Medical marijuana
  • Virtual reality 

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious mental health condition that has only been recognized fairly recently, so it will take more time for effective treatments to be developed. It is a lifelong condition, but with the help of therapy and other forms of treatment, it can be managed. 

In addition, if you are living with a mental health issue, being insured will give you peace of mind, and the coverage you need to make sure you can see your doctor regularly, and get any treatments you might need. If you’re looking for an insurance plan, EZ can help: we offer a wide range of health insurance plans from top-rated insurance companies in every state. And because we work with so many companies and can offer all of the plans available in your area, we can find you a plan that saves you a lot of money – even hundreds of dollars – even if you don’t qualify for a subsidy. There is no obligation, or hassle, just free quotes on all available plans in your area. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to a local agent, call 888-350-1890.

This Women’s History Month, Let’s Focus on Women’s Futures

It’s Women’s History Month again! So, as with any month that is dedicated to highlighting the history of a “minority” (and we use that term loosely, since women make up more than half of the population) or marginalized group, there will be a lot of focus on historical figures who have beaten the odds and have made a big difference. And that’s great: history is there for us to learn from, and that’s what we should be doing. 

But the problem with this way of thinking is that there’s a danger of losing sight of those who couldn’t beat the odds, and those who are still working to do so. So while we’ll certainly think about women’s fascinating past this month, and how we’ve gotten where we are today, we also want to focus on the futures of all women. To do that, let’s look at ways that we can ensure bright futures for all women. One way to do this is by supporting organizations run by and for women that strive toward equality in the present.

Where We Are Now

There’s no doubt that women have made great strides over the centuries, especially over the last one, and we would never want to diminish those hard-fought battles, and the rights and achievements we have attained. But it’s also clear that we still have a long way to go. Consider these stats about where we are today:2 rows of coins, one smaller with a pink woman gender sign and the other larger with a blue male gender sign

  • The gender wage gap persistsIn 2020, women earned 84% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers. Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 42 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2020. Those extra few cents also mean that women make at least $80,000 less over their lifetime than men – and that doesn’t even take into account the fact that African American, Latinx, and Indigenous women will earn even less over their lifetimes.
  • Domestic violence is still an alarming problem – More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) in the U.S. will experience rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this adds up to more than 10 million people – and again, these numbers change when adjusting for factors like race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and housing status. In addition, on average, more than 3 women are murdered by their intimate partners in the U.S. every day.
  • Sexual violence and harassment plague us –  One in five women in the United States has experienced a completed or attempted rape during their lifetime, and 81% of women have reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime. And consider this unexpected statistic: the estimated lifetime cost of rape is $122,461 per victim.
  • Women are still underrepresented – Women are 51% of the population in the U.S. but make up only:
    • 27% of Congress at large 
    • 24% of the U.S. Senate 
    • 27% of the U.S. House of Representatives 
    • 0% of presidents of the United States 
    • 30% of statewide elected executives of any kind
    • 31% of state legislators
    • 31% of the largest cities’ mayors 
    • 25% of mayors in cities with populations over 30,000

And, again, these numbers are not adjusted for race, income level, or age. fetus with a heart and a stethescope

  • Access to reproductive healthcare remains an issue – Although most U.S. maternal deaths are preventable, we have the highest maternal mortality ratio among wealthy nations. In addition, contraception and assisted reproduction services are often unaffordable and out of reach for many, and 90% of counties in the country are without a single abortion provider. African American women, Indigenous women, and people of color, and those living in rural communities and with lower incomes, are disproportionately harmed when healthcare is inaccessible. For example, African American and Indigenous women in the U.S. are roughly three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. 

Organizations to Support

The above facts and statistics highlight just a few of the issues that continue to stand in the way of ALL women moving forward, and having the chance to make history. And these numbers can make things seem hopeless, or like nothing has changed or will ever change, but that’s not true! Things have gotten better, and can continue to improve, thanks to the hard work of many people. So what can you do, if you’re not in the position to get into the trenches and do some hands-on work? You can help by supporting the following organizations. 

Note: we have highlighted issues and statistics here in the U.S., as well as organizations aimed at supporting women in the U.S., but there are many, many excellent organizations helping women around the world that are well worth your time and money.

1. National Women’s Law Center

The National Women’s Law Center, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, has played an active role in the passage of legislation that supports women’s rights. It also advocates for women’s health care and reproductive rights, as well as the rights of children and families. Its current 100 Wins 100 Days campaign is asking for the Biden administration to prioritize a range of political initiatives from passing the Equality Act to protecting tipped workers, who are primarily women, impacted by the pandemic. You can donate to the National Women’s Law Center to support its fight for gender justice.

2. Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women

According to the National Institute of Justice, four out of five Native women experience violence in their lifetime, so the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW) is dedicated to ending violence against Native women and children. By advocating for and engaging with tribal communities, CSVANW is working toward a future where all people can feel safe.

3. I Support the Girls

I Support the Girls serves women and girls experiencing homelessness, and it does so in a way that is often overlooked. They believe “A woman shouldn’t have to choose between feeding herself and her personal health.  Every woman should have the ability to maintain her dignity.” So they collect and distribute essential items, including bras, underwear, and menstrual hygiene products to women experiencing homelessness, impoverishment, or distress like domestic violence. 

4. Trans Women of Color Collective

stop violence written in a stop sign
INCITE! works to end violence in our homes, communities, and at the state level.

The Trans Women of Color Collective “seeks to shift the narrative of surviving to thriving in our communities.” The group provides a network to trans women of color where they can meet entrepreneurs, healers, and collaborators to help them succeed.


A network of self-described radical feminists of color, INCITE! works to end violence in our homes, communities, and at the state level. They’ve created accessible activism toolkits to help encourage community organization against issues that disproportionately impact women of color like police brutality and gender violence.

6. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is currently the only national organization dedicated to empowering Asian American and Pacific Islander women and girls through community mobilization and political change. They do this through their work in reproductive rights advocacy, economic justice, and immigrant rights. 

7. Women’s Prison Association

The Women’s Prison Association works to keep women out of prison, support women who are incarcerated, and help women who were previously incarcerated set up for life afterward. This includes finding affordable housing, preparing them for job interviews, or locating any mental health services they might need.

8. Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code empowers young women to pursue careers in technology and computer science. The organization offers after-school coding classes for young women in 3rd grade through 12th grade, as well as summer programs and an alumni network. They have worked with 185,000 girls in all 50 states, and college-aged alumni of the program are majoring in computer science at a rate 15 times the national average.

9. The Center for Reproductive Rights

The Center for Reproductive Rights uses litigation and advocacy to fight for the rights of women to have access to quality reproductive health and resources.

10. Girl Up 

Girl Up is a nonprofit organization that works to defend gender equality through leadership development training sessions for school-aged girls and women, according to the website. There are currently 3,300 registered Girl Up clubs in 50 US states, two territories, and 118 countries.

11. UltraViolet

According to their website, UltraViolet “work[s] to end violence against women, increase economic security for women and families, and ensure that all women have access to full and affordable health care services.” They do this through “a combination of organizing, technology, creative campaigning, and people power.”

12. She Should Run

She Should Run is a nonpartisan organization that inspires women to run for office by providing a free starting place for women to explore running for office. Its current goal is to get 250,000 women to run for office by 2030. Through its Ask a Woman to Run tool and She Should Run incubator, women from all backgrounds can enroll in courses on leadership, networking, and communication skills to build their individual paths to candidacy.

13. Poetic Justicewomen in orange jumpsuits with notebooks on their laps

Poetic Justice offers both in-person and remote creative writing for women in a growing number of prisons in the U.S. According to their website, their “vision is to offer opportunities for healing and growth by holding space to process trauma and rewrite personal narratives to transform the story of incarceration.”

It’s extremely important to know our history, but it’s just as vital that we support our present and empower our future. The organizations above are working hard to do this – and there are so many more that are doing so, as well, it just takes a little research to find one that speaks to you. So if these many, many organizations and many, many women and allies who are hard at work are any indication, the future is bright.

Domestic Violence & Health Insurance

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), around 20 people are physically abused every minute in the United States by their partners. That equates to over 10 million women and men each year. During the recent pandemic, domestic abuse reports rose by over 100,000 cases in just two months. 

caucasian woman with bruises on her knuckles and face.

Each of these statistics is someone who might face the difficult situation of picking up and starting over, finding a new place to live, finding a job, repairing  their credit, and getting health insurance. Health insurance may not be the first thing people think of when they think of the things that survivors of domestic violence need, but it is extremely important. Domestic violence survivors battle psychological and emotional scars and even PTSD stemming from their experiences. They need health insurance to get treatment, and for their children.

Up until 2014, being a survivor of domestic violence was actually considered a pre-existing condition. This meant anyone who had a documented history of this type of abuse could be denied insurance during the underwriting process, or could have to pay a lot more for their policy. Now, the ACA allows any domestic violence survivor to get health insurance at any time without worrying about being denied or paying extra.

The Definition of Domestic Violence

According to the NCADV, domestic violence can include any of the following:

    • Physical abuse– hitting, biting, slapping, battering, shoving, punching, burning, cutting, etc. This also includes denying someone medical treatment, and/or forcing drug/alcohol use.
    • Sexual abuse– being forced into having sexual contact or sexual behavior without consent. This includes marital rape, and physical violence after sex.
    • Emotional abuse– making the victim feel worthless or lowering their self esteem by criticising and name-calling. 
    • Economic abuse– making someone financially reliant on their abuser. The abuser takes over financial resources or keeps the victim from accessing funds. It also includes being kept from going to school or work.
    • asian man in a suit standing up and pounding his fist on a table in rage.Psychological abuse- using fear and intimidation tactics such as threatening to physically hurt themselves, the victim, children, or loved ones.
    • Threats
    • Stalking and cyberstalking 

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or 1-800-787-3224 for anonymous, confidential help. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

Getting Insured After Escaping Domestic Violence

woman with her head down and another womans hands on her shoulders
ACA-approved plans must cover essential health benefits including mental health services for domestic abuse survivors.

All ACA-approved plans must cover essential health benefits including mental health services for domestic violence survivors. This includes counseling and screening for domestic violence. Survivors of domestic violence are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), which gives survivors a 60-day window outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period to sign up for a Marketplace plan. This Special Enrollment Period is available to both men and women, whether or not they are still married to their abuser, and no documentation is required to prove domestic violence.

If you are living at or below 138% of the federal poverty line, you will qualify for free Medicaid coverage. If your income is not low enough to qualify for Medicaid, but low enough that you cannot afford a Marketplace plan, there are subsidies available to help you. 

Getting out of an abusive relationship takes a lot of courage and strength, and it can leave long lasting scars. Looking for health insurance, or worrying about getting treatment for you and your children can just bring on more stress. EZ cares and knows the importance of getting the healthcare you need for your recovery. We will provide you with an agent who will go over all the plans and find subsidies for you so you can find an affordable plan for yourself and your children. Our services are completely free, because we  want to help you get insurance without the stress. To get free quotes, enter your zip code in the bar bove, or to speak to one of our trained agents, call 888-350-1890.