The Radical Transformations of a Battered Women’s Shelter

Larissa MacFarquhar at The New Yorker:

In the years before Transition House existed, violence at home was considered a private matter between husband and wife. In the early sixties, Janet, an undergraduate at a Seven Sisters college, had just married Jonathan, who was in law school. (Both names are pseudonyms.) Jonathan had started beating her up almost daily; each time, he was filled with remorse, but he blamed Janet for provoking him. Janet had not known any violence growing up, so she found the situation disturbing and bizarre and kept it a secret from most people she knew. She explained her black eyes with the usual stories about bumping into things.

She and Jonathan went to see a therapist, who recommended individual treatment for each of them. Janet’s therapist asked her about her childhood and concluded that she was a moral ascetic with a rigid superego, but, in what she recognized as an undisciplined moment for a Freudian, he suggested that she might leave her husband.

more here.