Published in 1976 and updated in 1981, Battered Wives was the first book on the subject of domestic violence in the United States and still the best general introduction to the problem of abuse.
This book includes excellent critical summaries of the legal and political status of battered women, and the extent to which their immediate predicament must be understood in broad political terms.
What follows is the first person story of how Ruth Gottstein, Publisher Emerita, got the idea to publish Del Martin's ground breaking book.
In the mid-seventies, I was a publisher for the Glide Foundation in San Francisco. This enabled me to attend book fairs in other places, and find out what the world of publishing was like in those days. The Big Apple of publishing conferences was held annually in Frankfurt, Germany. It was rather unusual for small presses to attend, and I had gathered some San Francisco Bay area publishers into a group exhibit. A man sidled up to me at our booth, and almost in the style of offering dirty pictures, he quietly told me had a manuscript for a book entitled Scream Quietly or the Neighbors Will Hear by Erin Pizzey, which was going to be published in England.
My reaction was almost visceral. Although I had never heard the term domestic violence (and I am not sure it even existed then), I immediately flashed on my own childhood, and the violence both my mother and I had experienced.
For some reason, I visualized the terrazzo steps I always walked up to our front door--and how I hated going through that door. When I spoke to the other people at our stand about this book idea, they were astonished. That's not really a subject on which to publish,they said.
When I returned to San Francisco, negotiations with publishing with the British book foundered. So I turned to Del Martin, and asked her to write a book for us about the situation the United States. A book could almost be written on the difficulties we encountered in obtaining sufficient data with which to go forward...there were no agencies, no government support. Women's groups here and there tried to help victims clandestinely, almost in the style of the underground railway for Black people which existed during the Civil War. Del and I learned that some pioneer work on behalf of domestic victims had been done by the Brooklyn Legal Services in New York. We really needed their data, and a New York friend did a sit in at their busy, overworked office. She sat in the lobby with her arms crossed and said she wasn't leaving until she got the information.
Remember, we didn't have computers or other methods of forwarding that information. But one day into our office in Glide arrived a cardboard box packed with actual case histories from the Legal Services...we were off and running.
Actually, issuing the book cost me my closest friendship with a psychiatric social worker who was then the president of the Orthopsychiatric Association. Since the organization was meeting that year in San Francisco, I suggested to her a panel on domestic violence. Her response? That's not a subject we would discuss. Battered Wives was published in 1976, and every word is as valid today as it was then, and the book is still in print.
Archival copies only now available until this print runs out.
Specifications of Battered Wives
|Number Of Pages||281|
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