Whats the history of family violence and what can we do to combat it?
Family and domestic violence have been around for centuries, and unfortunately has also been socially acceptable for a long part of our history. As women were second class citizens, so were children to be "seen and not heard". Fathers traditionally had ultimate and final say on all family matters, and to "spare the rod" was to "spoil the child". Only recently has corporal punishment fallen out of favor in schools and in parenting. So we're dealing with a very long period of tradition here, which is part of the problem.
Education is the most effective thing we can do, but it also takes time for that to have a visible effect on societal attitudes towards family violence. We can also adopt more of a no tolerance policy legally that aims to protect victims of such violence and punish those who do it. We are making progress, but it is very slow.
I can also add that domestic abuse became more publicly known during the women's movement in the 1970's. The first shelter for battered women was opened in 1974. Many other shelters followed suit and soon there were hundreds of places all over the United States where women and children could go for protection. These shelters offered basic necessities and sometimes even offered legal services. Unfortunately, it wasn't until the 1990's that domestic abuse was considered a very serious offense.
Violence can be a seen as a disease. If it is not treated properly it will get passed on from one generation to the next. One thing we can do to combat it is develop stricter laws against domestic violence and hand down harsher punishments to those who choose to break the laws.