No Safe Place Woman Photo
No Safe Place
No Safe Place: Violence Against Women

Violence Against Women
A PBS Documentary Film
Written by Mary Dickson
© 1996


In the early hours of a hot August morning, three men pulled a woman from her car after a minor traffic accident. The men threatened her with a crowbar, made her strip, then chased her until she jumped off a bridge to her death in the Detroit River. None of the 40 or so passers-by tried to help the 33-year-old woman. Some reports say onlookers cheered as the men taunted her.

As women, we live in fear of incidents like this. Because of our gender, we learn early that we must take extra precautions to be safe. Fear proscribes how and where we live, where we walk, where we park, where we sleep, eat and travel. As women, we know there are some things we cannot -- or, rather, should not -- do, some places we should not go. (Pause) We feel at risk because we are. We understand too well that there is no safe place.


NARRATOR: An alarming amount of violence is targeted at women. By some estimates, three out of four women will be victims of sort of violence in their lifetime. For too many of us, the most intimate of crimes -- rape and domestic violence -- are a bitter reality. According to Senator Joseph Biden, who sponsored the Violence Against Women Act, "the single greatest danger to a woman's health is violence from men."

NARRATOR: Women may be afraid of strangers, but it's the most intimate of strangers -- a husband, a lover, a friend -- who is most likely to hurt us. According to a U.S. Justice Department study, two-thirds of violent attacks against women are committed by someone the woman knows. In the United States, the most dangerous place for a woman is in her own home, where intimacy can invoke an anger that may explode into domestic violence.


NARRATOR: For years, Misty Marchant was abused by her husband, Kenny. Their separation only seemed to make things worse. Misty's co-worker, Paul Sottisanti.

PAUL: She had come to work and she walked up to my desk and asked me, how do I look. And I looked at her and I says, like a million. She says no, my face. And at the time I looked at her it looked like she had smeared her mascara. But what it turned out to be was her whole side of her face, had it shut in a door. And that was the day or the day after she went and filed for divorce from Kenny.

NARRATOR: According to Paul, Misty knew she was going to die.

PAUL: She says well I just want to thank you for being my good friend and all your good advice and I don't think I'm going to see you again. And I says, well if you really think it's that serious, would you want to borrow a gun. And I personally thought she would have said no because she has a child and was afraid of guns, but her reaction was so positive she couldn't wait. I should have brought it to her that night.

NARRATOR: Misty never got the gun. Two days later she was dead. (Pause) Early on the morning of July 3, 1994, an intoxicated and heavily armed Kenny broke into Misty's house, and gunned down her and her friend Kirt Swann, a 32-year-old father of four. Misty's sister, Tammy Perea.

TAMMY: ... Her death was so violent that you can hear on the 911 tape, you can actually hear her body completely bleed out, every drop of blood in her body.

TAMMY: At that point Kenny shot Kirt several more times...then he left the house...and went to his father's where he'd been living and killed himself there.

NARRATOR: According to Tammy, the entire scene was played out in front of the Marchant's five-year-old daughter.

TAMMY: ... You can hear her on the 911 tape saying, "Mommy, where's Mommy, I want Mommy."

PAUL: Misty had tried to reach out... She went to court.... The night the dispatcher got the call, the first thing the officer said is, 'That's Misty's house.'" Everybody was aware of it, and nobody ever did anything about it.

NARRATOR: As to why a man would be enraged enough to kill his wife, family and friends can only speculate.

TAMMY: during custody hearings his parents admitted on the stand in court to 28 years of domestic violence and spouse abuse. He was raised in an abusive family. He was taught that it was okay, that this is how it was.

NARRATOR: Kenny and Misty were both victims of the cycle of abuse. It was a pattern both saw as normal, a pattern that eventually led to their deaths.

NARRATOR: Approximately 1,500 women are killed each year by husbands or boyfriends. About 2 million men a year beat their partners. Domestic violence knows no social or economic boundaries. Dr. Susan Hanks is director of the Family and Violence Institute in Alameda, California. She believes there is no one profile of men who batter women.

HANKS: Many men batter because they feel, because they are tremendously dependent on the woman... because they are threatened by her moves towards any kind of individual life of her own or individual thinking of her own. Some men batter because that's the only way they know how to be close.

NARRATOR: What pushes a violent man to kill? Often a woman leaving or threatening to leave a relationship is the trigger.

HANKS: That's often the most dangerous time in a relationship because that's when the man is most psychologically vulnerable, feeling most rejected and most threatened and his only way that he knows how to deal with those feelings is to act violently towards the woman who he perceives is causing them.


BRANDY: The abuse started psychologically before he started calling me names like stupid. (to)the physical abuse started with a slap in the face. And it slowly escalated into more physical violence, ya know beatings, chokings....I'd try to be perfect (to) But it didn't matter. He would get upset if I forgot to bring milk home from the store and that would cause him to be physically violent with me. And then afterwards, he would be really sorry and I believed him.

NARRATOR: After six years of marriage, Brandy decided she couldn't put up with the abuse anymore. She asked for a divorce.

BRANDY: he said to me you're not going to get a divorce and I said yes, I want one, ya know, I can't stay here anymore. And so he walked away from me and he walked into his office and I followed him because he didn't usually give up that easily...he had a gun in his hand and he was loading it and he walked into our daughter's bedroom and I was shocked when I walked in there and little Angela was standing in her crib and she was just bouncing up and down and he had put a gun to one of her ears and then the other hand was over the other ear and he said, no tell me that you'll leave me and I'll blow her brains out and then I'll blow your brains out and then I'll blow my brains out..., And I fell at my husband's feet and I said please don't kill my baby. And that's when I decided that I needed to reach out and to talk to someone to tell someone ya know what was happening in our lives because up until that point, it was just a secret."

BRANDY: My son I know was really affected by it (to) he didn't understand that I was actually saving his life by staying there because my husband was telling me that if I left that he would find me and he would kill me and he would kill the children too.

BRANDY: I walked around every day and I knew that might be the day that I would die. I felt like I was a walking dead woman. (to) And so I thought I have to leave and if I have to die leaving, I would rather have the courage to leave and at least get out instead of staying and dying.

NARRATOR: After reaching out, Brandy finally was able to break out of the cycle of violence. She now works with the Utah State Attorney General's office on issues of domestic violence.

NARRATOR: Leaving a relationship, no matter how abusive, is never easy.

HANKS: Women who leave relationships often have to opt for living in poverty. That's a very difficult choice to make. There are many social, cultural factors that contribute to encouraging women to stay and try and make the situation better. So there are many, many reasons. In addition to that, women love the men who abuse them. Or at least love them initially. Men who batter are not 100 percent bad and they are not 100 percent hateful. And they can be quite loving and attentive and protective partners at times.

NARRATOR: Hanks says there's another question we should be asking. Why don't men leave these relationships that are supposedly so unsatisfactory to them?

HANKS: what we hear is how terribly inadequate these women are for the men. We also hear though how tremendously dependent they are on the woman. And their fear of rejection, their fear of emotional withdrawal and/or abandonment are major factors actually that cause them to be violent. Men who batter their women are oftentimes psychologically incapable of leaving them.

NARRATOR: We hear a lot about the cycle of abuse in some families. About how life begins to revolve around anticipating episodes of violence...actually coping with violence....or recovering from violence. Ironically, a family can become tremendously close during the recovery stage. The man who was terrifying and intimidating turns into a very needy, dependent and remorseful man. And the woman who was battered recommits to him in a fantasized hope that it will never happen again. (pause) It's not just adults who are sucked into the cycle of abuse, a cycle which can span generations.

HANKS: Children are always traumatized by witnessing violence in families. We know that from family backgrounds of men who are abusive that they often witness their mothers being abused and also they were often victims of child physical abuse themselves. We also know that of women who are battered, if they have the misfortune of having come from a family of witnessing their own mother being abused they will be susceptible to developing what we call battered women's syndrome, in which they believe that there is nothing they can do to get out of the situation.

NARRATOR: Rape, like domestic violence, is a crime that has existed as long as written history. Like domestic violence, rape is also a crime that is far too common. Women report almost half a million rapes and sexual assaults each year, but most rapes are never reported. While battered women may be willing to share their stories, rape victims are often reluctant to discuss their experiences, even years later. (pause) Maggie is a 49-year-old woman who lives in a middle class neighborhood in Salt Lake City.


MAGGIE: I had let my little dog out to go to the bathroom and he was barking furiously in the driveway, so I ran outside to see what was going on and a man came up behind me and put a knife at my throat. And he took me in the house. He didn't say anything. He had grabbed hold of my arm, knife at my throat and just marched me into the house in front of him and threw me on the bed. My dog followed us in, was having a nervous breakdown and he threw my dog against the wall and then put him in another bedroom and shut the door, and he raped me. He told me if I screamed, that he would "Nicole" me. That was the term he used.

MAGGIE: (back to) I know that I will never, ever be the same person again. In fact, after it happened, I asked both my daughter and my sister if I looked different. Because I felt like I was so changed, it must be on my face. (to) all women are vulnerable like I am. And if they don't realize it, they should. Because you never know what's going to happen. You never ever know when it's going to happen. And you always need to be checking your back. (to) For example, I have mace on my keychain, but you don't run outside to see what your dog's barking at with your mace in hand. And maybe you should. Maybe you should go everywhere with it in your hand.

NARRATOR: While her attacker remains at large, Maggie struggles to get over what happened to her.

MAGGIE: I know that I will never really recover from this. The impact will always be with me and I will never trust the same way and I know I can't even be tested for HIV for six months. So I have to even keep that in mind. I'll never be able to get away from this. The impact will be on me and my family forever.

NARRATOR: Even in family-oriented Utah, a state perceived as a safe place, more than 4,000 red flags representing one year's rape victims waved during a fall commemoration. Each year, the staff of the Rape Recovery Center hears stories from women of all backgrounds, races and ages. The 94-year-old woman who was raped. The three-week-old baby who was sexually abused. Half of the rape and abuse victims the staff served in emergency rooms were under 14 years of age. (pause) The majority of rapes still go unreported. The most troubling statistic is that three fourths of rapes are committed by a man the woman knows -- a fact society is not willing to accept. Executive Director Abby Maestas.

MAESTAS: We want to feel safe so we want to believe that rapists have a particular profile in terms of they're easy to identify -- they wear trench coats, they live under the viaduct or hang out in vacant buildings and have crazed looks in their eyes. And that's not true. What we have found through the clients that are served at the Rape Recovery Center, what we have found through studies, is that a rapist can be anyone -- a father, a grandfather, an uncle, a neighbor, a brother, a son.

NARRATOR: C.Y. Roby is executive director of Intermountain Specialized Abuse Treatment Center.

ROBY: ... We have a tendency I think to look on it and then say, well in order to keep safe, what I need to do then is stay out of the park at night, stay out of the dark alleys at night and I won't end up being raped. And yet, the vast majority of rapists are known to the victim.


DIANNA: I met him at college. ...he gave me a silly line like hey don't I know you from somewhere. And he was handsome, he was charming, he was funny. He seemed like he had it all together.

NARRATOR: Dianna began to see another side of her boyfriend. He would become angry and then he'd become violent.

DIANNA: I told him I didn't want to go out with him anymore. Then he became obsessive. He started showing up every single day at my work and following me everywhere I went. Registered for my classes. He got a job where I was working. And this went on for 10 months.

DIANNA: (to) Nobody seemed to mind that he was following me. I guess it was more of a joke, people didn't realize how dangerous he was.

DIANNA: in the middle of writing a letter to a friend (to) I turned around and Bruce was there he had this look on his face and I screamed cause the look on his face scared me so much (to) and I noticed that he had a knife in his hand. And he cornered me, he put his arms around me, put the knife up to my neck, it was an eight-inch knife, it had serrated edges, it was a hunting knife. He put it up to my neck and said if I screamed again, he was gonna kill me.

DIANNA: During the attack I was pretty detached. I felt like if I didn't stay calm that he would kill me. That I just was better off going along with whatever he said and did and that way it would be over with. If I would have fought, I think I would have been killed.

NARRATOR: Dianna's rapist escaped through a window when he heard her roommate come home. Fearing for her life, she dropped out of college and broke her routine. She pressed charges, but her rapist was only placed on probation. He was charged with forcible sexual abuse of another woman just three months after raping Dianna. Not only did the rape make Dianna feel more vulnerable, she was also hurt by the reaction of others.

DIANNA: The reaction of my landlord was that it was I who had caused the problems. He hadn't had problems until I moved to there and that he had to fix the door and he was kind of mad at me. The um reaction of my neighbor was pretty non-chalant like maybe I deserved it.

ROBY: from the time a child is very, very small, we're teaching that they're responsible for the things that happen in their life both positive and negative. So when a rape situation occurs, usually what I see going through a victim's mind is what did I do that was wrong."

MAESTAS: Even children are questioned. The innocence of children are questioned. Often times I have sat with a police officer or a client and have heard that a four year old girl was responsible for seducing her perpetrator who was an adult. Now what are we saying? What we're saying is that we don't know how to take responsibility as a society. Therefore, we will continue to blame the victim.

NARRATOR: Rape is a devastating crime. Some women are badly injured. Some become pregnant. Some contract HIV. But the emotional trauma can be worse than any physical injury. The lives of women who are raped are forever changed. Victims say they will never be the same, that it's like dying.

MAESTAS: ...and even if for 20 minutes...The whole act of not having control is so devastating that that is what creates the crisis element for victims of rape and sexual assault and we see this in every age group.


NARRATOR: Patty always felt safe. Then came the night she was attacked and beaten by a stranger while working the late shift at a health club.

PATTY: And I said, take the money. I'll open the register for you, just take the money. And he hit me harder. And then he started dragging me back into where we couldn't be seen...And then I thought ooh. He didn't come for the money.. (to) I said, why are you doing this to me. And he said because I'm a creep lady."

NARRATOR: Determined not to be raped, she pretended to faint.

PATTY: he was standing at my feet and I could hear him start to take his pants off. And I thought this is as vulnerable as he is ever gonna be and if I'm gonna do something it's gotta be now. And I just jumped up at him and I went right for his eyes with my fingernails.

NARRATOR: In the struggle that followed, her head hit the wall. As she went down, she grabbed a bottle of window cleaner.

PATTY: I squirted that right in his face....And he just started screaming. I give up, let me go, I give up.

NARRATOR: The police found Patty's attacker hiding in a nearby dumpster. He is now serving 10 years to life in prison.

PATTY: While technically I'm still a victim, I was a victim of aggravated sexual assault, I don't feel like a victim. I feel like I won."

NARRATOR: Who is most likely to be assaulted or raped? Maestas stresses that rapists choose those who are vulnerable, which is why children and even the elderly are at risk. (Pause) Dr. Michael Ghiglieri is a biologist who has written extensively about male violence. He cites a 10-year study looking at more than a million cases of rape in the United States.

GHIGLIERI: It's a huge sample, unfortunately, a hugh sample of victims. And it turns out that 88 percent of these women are between the ages of 12 to 28.

NARRATOR: Dr. Ron Sanchez is a prison psychologist who works with sex offenders. While many rapists can be calculating and planning, he says some are very impulsive. For example, they might see a woman who is alone and seize the opportunity.

SANCHEZ: As I've worked with rapists, I've asked them how do you go about gaining access to houses and many of them said they would look for an open window or unlocked door and just go in the house. And I was amazed to find out how many houses that they encountered had doors unlocked. So I think a simple thing of locking your doors and windows is a deterrent.

NARRATOR: Why do men commit violent crimes against women? Experts are still debating the answers.

HANKS: What we do know is that all human beings can be violent given certain circumstances and certainly in times of war we sanction some people being violent towards other people but we also know that not all men are violent outside of wartime or a unique situation like that. Only some men are violent and we know that men in general as a group are more violent than women in general.

GHIGLIERI: that fact is testosterone is a real kick-starter for violence. It's a kick starter for every male trait, not just violence, it is the responsible hormone for making males..(to)and it does affect behavior, it actually forces aggressive behavior. In humans as in other species, even more in humans, we have the choice as individuals whether we are aggressive or not. But the fact is testosterone does affect male attitudes and the propensities to violence.

NARRATOR: If we look at violence in terms of behavior, Ghiglieri says that it is universal from species to species, culture to culture. Both sexes use violence. Women use violence to protect what they have. Men use violence to get more than they have.

GHIGLIERI: Men employ violence against everyone, irrespective of sex and gender and even against other species if they get in the way. Violence is a male tactic. But I think in general if you want to get the simplest perspective on it, males use violence to control females and they do it very often and they control those females for sexual reasons.

ROBY: I don't like the idea of people promoting the idea that males have an innate tendency to act out aggressively. I think there's some research that supports that to a limited degree, but certainly, we can learn to rise above our biology.

NARRATOR: Jane Caputi is professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico and author of "The Age of Sex Crime." She says that to look at male violence from a biological perspective is skewed.

CAPUTI: I would say that what's happening now in all this emphasis on men who are innately more violent and women are innately more passive and stuff like that is scientific sexism and nothing, nothing more.

NARRATOR: Is violence against women rooted in the way men and women are socialized? Many feminists claim it's the result of a patriarchal culture that encourages and rewards male dominance. (Pause) Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization for Women, says violence against women has been accepted throughout history. She cites an 18th century English common law giving a man permission to discipline his wife with a stick no wider than his thumb.

IRELAND: That was actually an improvement. That was an effort to recognize corporal punishment as appropriate. We had a judge out in Baltimore who sentenced Ken Peacock to 18 months work release after the cold-blooded murder of his wife, and said to Ken Peacock, I don't know any man who would have come home under those circumstances, found his wife in bed with another man and not have inflicted some sort of corporal punishment. I think that we have a structure, a culture that is based on the dominant dad whether it's in a family or in politics, and that has used violence to keep that position when necessary.

NARRATOR: Feminists say history is filled with examples of legally sanctioned violence against women. They site the burning of witches, which was condoned by both church and state. Some even see religious tradition as a factor.

CAPUTI: Religion is absolutely fundamental in perpetuating violence against women. It is one of the key ways to communicate the idea of male supremacy. First of all, God is male...patriarchal religions would have us believe that all divinity if male and only male.

NARRATOR: Feminist author Gloria Steinem.

STEINEM: Society definitely encourages and condones men's violence toward women. Not as much as it used to be when it was less visible, and there were still laws on the books that made it alright for men to beat their wives as long as it was within certain limits (to) The attitude is diminished, but it's still there.

NARRATOR: When it comes to violence, we seem to be confused. Our society claims to abhor violence, yet we often make heroes of men who are violent.

CAPUTI: All the whole culture of masculinity, the heros that we see, be it Indiana Jones or Rambo or John Wayne or Charles Bronson or whomever, they're all predicated on some kind of violent action.

NARRATOR: Illinois Attorney General Roland Burr has claimed that crimes against women are "motivated by hatred of women as a class." An April 1991 Newsweek article noted that "in all of pop culture (as in most of society) women are the victims of choice. 'Consider this a divorce!' Arnold Schwarznegger bellows just before he blows his wife away in Total Recall. Audiences love it! She got hers!...An awful lot of hostility against women is being played out in popular cultures these days and it's not pretty." Do such attitudes set the stage for violence against women?

NARRATOR: John Albert Taylor, who was executed in 1996 for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, fantasized about raping other girls and was charged with raping a Florida woman. In a letter he wrote in 1978, he said: (Pause) "I felt rejected by them. When I raped or molested, it was a way for me to get back at the female race."

NARRATOR: In her book, The Age of Sex Crime, Jane Caputi contends that serial sex killers act to enforce misogyny -- the hatred of women -- in our culture.

CAPUTI: These are not deviants, these are not monsters from nowhere, they're actually performing a cultural function, in enforcing misogyny -- the hatred of women -- in showing that women are prey, etcetera and in acting out masculinity in totally dominating the feminine.

GHIGLIERI: ...There is no way biologically a species could evolve in which one sex hates the other sex.

NARRATOR: While there might not be agreement on it origins, everyone does agree that violence against women is a common theme in popular culture.

CAPUTI: It makes it glamorous, it eroticizes that kind of violence against women and makes it appear consensual, as if women seek this out and want it. It makes it extremely normal as well (to) We all know the notorious General Hospital where Luke raped Laura and then later married her and so it made it seem as though rape was a kind of courtship ritual....(jump ahead to)

NARRATOR: Like TV and film, advertising sexualizes violence and domination.

CAPUTI:(audio only) we see these kind of advertisements everywhere. (to) there's adds for jeans in which women are shown licking the floor. That's a common technique in domestic violence, not just hitting the woman but humiliating her, either through words or through making her perform demeaning acts.

NARRATOR: The media, biology, religion, culture. All are cited as factors in men's violence against women, but the causes are far more complicated. Most men -- those who are the product of the same biology, the same culture -- don't commit such acts. So what pushes a man to be violent toward a woman?


NARRATOR: Carlos is serving a five-year prison term for forcible sexual assault of his ex-wife. They were going through a divorce when he was first arrested.

CARLOS: "In one breath I'm telling her I love her and in the next breath I'm wanting to just take her and slap some sense into her. I don't know if you can understand that, but at that time I thought that's what I needed to do.

CARLOS: I was really in love with my ex-wife I guess. I'd come home from work and I would look at these pictures and I would always say, well, why me, why me...Everybody hates to loose a possession or something and that's the way I really thought of my ex-wife. as a possession.

NARRATOR: Carlos stalked his estranged wife. He was arrested several times, once for burglarly, another time charged with spousal rape. He talks about one incident.

CARLOS: "I drove back to her house and sure enough this car was there and he was there I sat in my car for about 10 minutes and I was just letting this anger just build up inside of me an I knew something was going I got out of my car, I walked up to the door and I knocked on the door. And I could hear laughing inside. Joking around and I just got angry so I kicked the door in and a this individual got up out of the couch, my couch that I bought, he got out of the couch that he was sitting next to her and they were, I don't know what they were doing, and my imagination was going crazy And he came at me so I just hit him right there. And blood got splattered all over. I picked up the coffee table and I hit him with the coffee table.

NARRATOR: Carlos also assaulted his wife, but in his mind he was the victim.

CARLOS: I was holding all these emotions, all this anger, all this hurt, all this, this craziness these crazy thoughts, I was just holding it in and I wasn't releasing it. I wasn't venting it out. So when I went to my ex-wife's house, when I saw this man, I exploded.

NARRATOR: Carlos now admits he was a husband who wanted control.

CARLOS: And one of my means of control was I would break furniture, so if I said something to my wife, like let's go do this and she wanted to do something else, I would get really angry and I'd just throw a television out the window. (to) and I didn't know any other way of controlling my ex-wife. And so yes I did have a violence but it wasn't directed at my ex-wife. It wasn't no physical violence. I used more mental abuse then physical abuse with my ex-wife.

NARRATOR: Michael Kimmel is a sociologist at the State University of New York who has received international recognition for his work on men and masculinity. He says men tend to be violent against women when they feel their power eroding.

KIMMEL: we might see men initiating aggression against women, we might see men acting against women but the men themselves don't experience it that way. They experience it as revenge or retaliation. Like women have power over me because they're beautiful and sexual and I want them and they elicit that and I feel one down, I feel powerless. (to)so the aggression then is to restore the balance.I mean just listen for a minute to the way in which we describe women's beauty and sexuality. We describe it as a violence against us. She is a knock-out, a bomb-shell, dressed to kill, a femme fatale, stunning, ravishing. I mean all of these are words of violence against us. It's like, wow, she knocked me out. So the violence then, or the aggression or the sexual violence is often a way to retaliate.


NARRATOR: Twenty-nine-year-old Phillip is in prison for sexually abusing his step-daughter.

PHILLIP: I didn't think about her, and you know if you ask the majority of people who are here on this same crime, what they think about, and they would tell you the same, probably the same thing. They didn't really think. They just want somebody to vent their anger out on. I could of went over to my ex-mother-in-law and shot the whole family up. I could have waited for my wife to come home and blow her car. I could have done all these things. But at that time, it was just there. It was just there. It just happened. It wasn't ya know, I didn't look at it as a person or a child just an object.

NARRATOR: Philip won't talk about what he did to his step-daughter, but he will talk about what he did to his ex-wife, who was often the target of his anger.

PHILLIP: I wanted to leave. She blocked the door which made me feel like I was trapped. Everywhere I went she went. She clung on to me. And like I said, it made me feel trapped. I didn't know what to do I wanted to say like women get off me so I can leave but and I will be back, but somehow I managed to get out of the house and I got in the car and she was six months pregnant and as I was going down the driveway she jumps on the car. Is still clinging and me not caring, me being in a state of mind that I was in ya know this cold, this cold state, I floored the car and threw her off and kept going.

PHILLIP: if a woman stands toe to toe with a man, he's gonna feel threatened and once he feels threatened, he's gonna come out swingin..that is if a man does not know any other way but violence.

NARRATOR: Like many violent men, Phillip was raised in an abusive home.

PHILLIP: I watched my dad choke my mother ya know. Ninety seven percent of the scars on my body are from being abused. Ya know I'm talking about, the welts, ya know the mental abuse, the watching the guns, put in my mom's mouth and me being thrown across the room, watching my brothers and sisters get their butts kicked by my father...

PHILLIP: (back to) Ya know and I always said that I would never be like my father, I would never do these things that he's done. But yet I was doing em and not knowing I was doing em.

PHILLIP: My children are scared of me. My little boy he doesn't really cling to me, ya know because he is not sure if his daddy is gonna be nice one minute or is he gonna be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde the next minutes. He's, I ya know one day he picked up a knife and he came at me. Now _____, that's his name ____ was um 4 at the time and that surprised me, it really surprised me to see him do what I'd done and see these are the same things I've seen my father do. So I was just passing it down the line.


To end this cycle of abuse, experts like Hanks says it's crucial that men like Phillip are not only punished, but get psychological help. She says abusive men need to learn new ways of relating to women so they can make a conscious decision not to be violent. (Pause) Robert Bly, a poet and social critic credited with founding the men's movement, talks about how violent men act impulsively, using violence to solve problems. He outlines the three stages of anger violent men go through.

BLY: First of all, there's the experiencing of anger which is felt inside. Then there's the expression of anger, verbally. And then there's the attempt to expel the anger from the body (to) We have men who go from the experience of the anger to the attempt to expel it in Wham 20 seconds. Expelling it means you want to hit something or somebody. It's as if the anger is in your body and you think you can get it out by doing that.

NARRATOR: Bly says abusive men must learn to express anger in ways in which no one will be hurt. He says the way to treat batterers is not to shame them.

BLY: That makes sense on the surface and yet the reason they are batterers is because they're already ashamed. And what's more, this kind of shaming people out of things does not have any resonance psychologically. (to) we know now with children you can't get children to behave by shaming them, you have to ask them, why did you actually steal that money. Did you want, were you really stealing love? Is that what you were doing?


NARRATOR: Don was court ordered to attend an anger control group for men after violence erupted in his five-year marriage.

DON: I did have a problem with my anger. I felt very frustrated, a lot of time it was that things weren't going my way. I'm a very controlling person, grew up in a controlling atmosphere, never really looked at myself. I always looked at others. A big major problem as I grew up, I could point my finger at anybody else but I never looked at me. And my respect for other people's feelings was almost nil or void. I never thought too much how another person might feel.

NARRATOR: Like some abusive men, Don points to the role women play.

DON: Women are not always the victims. Men are victims, too. It takes two people to fight. Usually it can be how they push each other's buttons and it can escalate and I don't think the man is always at fault. I don't know every incident that's ever been recorded, but I do know that it's very frustrating for a man in the role that he plays in society today that he does play a dominant role and a lot of times, women fall for men for their dominance. And dominancy is what brings us down.

NARRATOR: Michael Kimmel says the traditional model of masculinity isn't working.

KIMMEL: Well the basic rules of manhood, if I were to put them this way are no sissy stuff, that's the first rule. You can never do anything that even remotely hints of femininity. The second rule is be a big wheel. ya know, we measure masculinity by the size of your check, wealth, power, status, things like that. The third rule is be a sturdy oak. You show that you're a man by not ever showing your emotions. And the fourth rule is give em hell. Always go forward, exude an aura of daring and aggression in everything that you do. And this model of masculinity has been around for an awfully long time.

NARRATOR: The women's movement has helped to challenge this model. While some men are beginning to embrace the ideals of equality and mutual respect, Kimmel says other men are more threatened than ever, which may explain, in part, the increase in violence against women. (Pause) Robert McGinnis, director of the conservative Family Research Council, says he's concerned that violence against women is being blown out of proportion.

McGINNIS: You've heard the myth that domestic violence is directed only at women and it's a by-product of patriarchal domination. Well, the facts are that both men and women equally start fights. But it's the unfortunate reality that women aren't as strong as men...

NARRATOR: Crime surveys consistently show that no matter who initiates the violence, women are 7 to 10 times more likely to be injured than are men.

IRELAND: Irrespective of what the numbers are it's far too many. I don't want us to be diverted into a discussion of whether it's 1.7 million who are battered each year or is it three million battered each year. Is a woman raped every three minutes or every six minutes? It is far too much, whatever it is.

KIMMEL: The truth is there's a lot of violence against women out there and all of it is unconscionable, all of it is wrong, and most of us, most men and most women, would agree that none of it should happen.

NARRATOR: If a man's past history of abuse, his desire for control, his anger or his insecurity can lead him to batter his partner, what motivates a rapist?

ROBY: I don't think that it's solely a sexual crime. I think that there's also a lot of desire to dominate or control others and to a certain degree it's something I think that we've learned socially. Males often grow up and realize that the way to get what they want when they're younger is through aggressive means. So, it's something that we talk negatively about, but we quietly I think condone it and actually seem to promote it.

NARRATOR: Since the 1970s when Susan Brownmiller published her ground breaking book, Against our Will, rape has been viewed as a crime of control and violence.

GHIGLIERI: that whole power and control thing as an end in itself is a myth. Power and control is used as an instrument to accomplish a sexual event with an unwilling victim. And to leave out that sexual event is to completely forget what the crime was, which was a copulation was stolen from her against her will.

CAPUTI:I think it's really specious to separate violence and sex. I would disagree with some of the early feminists who would say rape is a crime of violence, not a crime of sex. Because unfortunately in this culture sex is completely interfused with violence, with notions of dominance and subordination. As I said, I believe our gender roles are constructed so we have these two constructed genders, masculine and feminine that are defined by one being powerful and one being powerless. And so therefore powerlessness and power themselves become eroticized.

NARRATOR: To understand rape, it's important to look at who rapes. Most rapists are young men. Most have been deviant since adolescence, tend to be aggressive, and have problems controlling their anger. They're often sensitive to rejection and insecure about their own masculinity. They also have distorted views about women and sex.

SANCHEZ: they might interpret the way she responds to them in a very friendly manner by saying "Hi", they might interpret that as that they're interested in him, as having sex with him to be blunt.


NARRATOR: Tony is serving time for sexually abusing his 13-year-old sister-in-law.

TONY: I don't believe it was rape. I believe she consented but her boyfriend at the time didn't like it.

TONY: My mom was a cocktail waitress so I've been around females portraying themselves as sex objects. I seen my mom in her skimpy outfits which that was the type of work she chose.

TONY: after seeing women like that in magazines, on billboards, and casinos wearing hardly anything, you grow up after 23 years pretty much thinking ... that's what a lot of these women bring on themselves. .... They want to be an object. You go to different parts of the country and ...women don't want to be ...recognized that way. So I'm a monster here, but yet I'm normal in Nevada.

TONY: My crime was a selfish act on my part. That's...she's gettin over it. She's gotten over it. She's movin' on. She's goin' to college. She's doing' good.

NARRATOR: Most rapists are never caught, and conviction rates for those apprehended are notoriously low. According to Department of Justice statistics, about half of accused rapists were released before trial. Of those tried, only half were sentenced to prison. Ron Sanchez says that during therapy in prison offenders admit crimes they've committed as children, teenagers and adults -- sometimes disclosing as many as 50 or 60 other crimes.

SANCHEZ: Many of them began voyeuring in homes, then eventually escalated to burglaries, even breaking into houses at night while people were sleeping,(to)Then escalating to the point of fantasy, fantasies about rape and eventually planning to rape and committing rape.

NARRATOR: Sex offenders tend to be compulsive and repetitive, the kind of criminals who are hardest to treat. A 1989 study by the American Psychological Association found no evidence that the rate of recidivism for treated offenders was any lower than it was for offenders who received no treatment.

SANCHEZ: I think that ya know we need to be realistic about what therapy can do. When we talk about treatment, we're not talking about a disease or an illness that we can cure with an antibiotic or something like that. It boils down to a personal choice.

NARRATOR: However, Sanchez believes therapy for sex offenders is crucial, if for no other reason than to identify who is not likely to change so that they may remain separated from society.

NARRATOR: So, what is the answer? One thing is absolutely clear. We can try to explain violence, but we must never excuse it. (pause) Refusing to tolerate violence on any level is the first step in ending it. So is teaching children about relationships based on respect.

NARRATOR: Denise Brown, sister of the late Nicole Brown, travels around the country speaking out against violence. She talks about beginning with a simple message to children.

BROWN: A child who places his hand on a piece of paper, traces the outside of his hand, colors his hand whatever color he wants to, writes whatever saying he wants on it, and they take a pledge, "hands are not for hitting. My hand will not commit violence." It's that simple.

NARRATION: Robert Bly agrees that stopping male violence must begin early on in child rearing.

BLY: ...the younger men need teachers as to how to go into a gentle and responsible masculinity. And the mothers try to teach them but the fathers and the older men need to, too. They're never going to learn gentle, responsible masculinity from the mass media or the television.

KIMMEL: If nurturing and loving and caring is something that both fathers and mothers do around the house, if they see their mother and their father doing this, now remember...the one thing you can always count on is every little boy thinks that his father is a real man. So they will grow up to think that nurturing and loving and caring is something is something that grownups do. And when those little boys get to be grown-ups they'll be nurturing and loving and caring , too, because that's what real men do. So, it's actually a real opportunity through fathering that men can be raising a new generation of boys.

NARRATOR: If we are really serious about ending violence against women, most experts say the punishment for such crimes must be harsh. Men -- and women -- must see that violence won't be tolerated.

HANKS: Violence towards family members should be treated in the same kind of way as violence toward strangers. And we as a society have been very ambivalent about protecting women in their own homes, because we have not wanted to see that women are most at risk from men they know.

GHIGLIERI: If a rapist gets away scott free or gets away with minor punishment, that means rape is a viable sexual strategy for a large number of men. Rape is inevitable if we don't punish it.

STEINEM: We have to stop talking about how many women are raped, and we have to talk about how many men rape. We use these passive verbs all the time as if it happened ya know by magic. Someone did it. And we have to identify that someone. And everything we know tells us that they only begin to take it seriously when there are very serious consequences.

NARRATOR: Michael Kimmel calls it a matter of carrots and sticks


KIMMEL: I think the stick is we need very strong laws with uncompromising enforcement and all the way through the legal system so that we make it clear as culture that we won't stand for this. As a culture we can say the way we try to say around murder for example, or auto theft for example, this is beyond the pale, you cannot do this. We will come down so hard on you, you won't want to do this. O.K. So we take away all the incentives, all the possibilities, we make it clear this is not O.K. in this culture. The second thing though is that's not enough, that's the stick. What's the carrot? (to) If we as men make it very clear to the women in our lives that we don't support men's violence against women, that we are actively opposed to it, that we are willing to confront other men who we see doing aggressive things, etc., then our relationships with women will actually improve.

NARRATION: If any progress is to be made in the way society deals with these issues, we must cross the gender gap and work together on solutions, understanding that these are crimes not just against women, but against humanity. Ending them is going to take a shift in our attitudes and our thinking as men, as women, and as a society.

NARRATOR: At a Washington, D.C. rally, thousands of T-shirts tell countless stories of men's violence against women. As a society, we must take these stories seriously, understanding that women have a different reality of their own safety than do men. Men and women must say no to violence. (Pause) The answer lies within each of us and what we will or will not tolerate as individuals, as communities, and as a nation to allow our daughters, our sisters, our mothers and all women in our lives to walk alone without fear.

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No Safe Place: Violence Against Women is made possible in part by a grant from the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation and the Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation. The documentary is a production of public television station KUED in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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