Violence Against Women: Intimate Partner Abuse (Domestic Violence)

Last class, we talked about rape culture – what that means and how our media and daily conversation often support victim-blaming and slut-shaming, and perpetuate and normalize acts of violence against women.

Today, let’s talk about Intimate Partner Abuse, what we used to call domestic violence. Both rape culture and Intimate Partner Abuse are part of a larger, global culture of violence against women. Let’s put this violence in perspective with other forms of violence we hear about/see:




Let’s put Steiner’s talk in conversation with Debra Davis’s article “Betrayed by the Angel.”

Here are two examples of street art by nnnnnnnn that changes the conversation about street harrassment of women, and that also gets at our expectation – particularly men’s expectations – that women always appear friendly, open, and available; for example, that they should start by smiling, even at strangers:

In 2012, Brooklyn illustrator/painter Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, started ‘Stop Telling Women to Smile,’ a series of large-scale posters, featuring portraits of women with instructive anti-harassment captions, that she wheatpasted in public places. To further help spead the message, Fazlalizadeh has taken her series on the road, creating city-specific posters, installing them across the country and abroad, and asking for help from local women who want to be involved in her campaign.

Here are some of her pieces from Oakland, CA:

stop telling women to smile street art 1

stop telling women to smile street art 2


  1. How does the way we socialize women continue to enable violence and intimate partner abuse?
  2. Why do you think Steiner tells herself that she’s just “in love with a difficult man” and not that she’s being abused?
  3. Why is it important for Davis that she fight back because she’s angry, and not just because she’s afraid?


I’ve given you a handout from and also one from our local YWCA’s resources regarding violence, which houses a shelter for women and children fleeing intimate partner abuse and domestic violence.

In small groups, examine the signs and behaviors that signal an abusive relationship. Do you recognize any of them, in your own reletionships or those of people you know? Do you recognize these behaviors as abusive or, like Steiner, do they seem normal/expected to you (i.e., would they make you angry, or would you accept them)?

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