This article tracks shifts in domestic violence discourse, examining changing ideas of who and what is culpable for domestic violence, from the norms and inequality of the traditional family to the aberrant deviance of male aggressors. It examines four historical moments: (1) a 1978 US Civil Rights Commission event featuring comprehensive critiques of the traditional family, (2) the 1980 conservation reaction to critiques of the traditional family in Senate debates, (3) a Reagan administration report about domestic violence that glorified the traditional family and blamed domestic violence on bad actors, and (4) 1994's Violence against Women Act, which attributed domestic violence to deviance rather than the traditional family, thereby protecting the prestige of the traditional family, a bedrock conservative principle.

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