– Brief History of Domestic Violence
It was acceptable in many cultures for men to punish their wives by beating them. Passages from the Bible were frequently cited as justification of a man's right to punish his wife and children as he saw fit. It is thought that the familiar term "the rule of thumb", refers to a British common law. This law gave husbands the right to beat wives seen as the property of their husbands and fathers, and were frequently "chastised" severely.
During the Middle Ages, floggings, death and exile were acceptable forms of punishment if a woman committed adultery. Miscarriages of asserting her will meant a woman could be burnt at the stake. Throughout the Victorian Era in England, woman were seen a frail, irrational and mainly ruled by their sexuality. Men were dominant, rational and expected to provide moral guidance for the women in their lives. Since a man could be held accountable for the misdeeds of his wife, his correction of her was seen as a preventive measure.