itscalledataktopResearch explains that the term “wifebeater” originated in 1947 when James Hartford Jr. was arrested for beating his wife to death. For months after, local news stations aired pictures of the man wearing a dirty tank top with stains on it, constantly referring to him as “the wife beater”.  Thereafter, a man wearing a similar tank top was said to be wearing “a wifebeater.”

Today, for a large part of American society, the term “wifebeater” refers to the white tank tops that can be bought in packages of six at the grocery store. Searching “#wifebeater” on different social media sites does not yield results of pictures portraying women bruised, bloodied and fighting for survival.  Nor does it show an abusive partner holding a weapon, abusing their spouse in front of their children or calling her derogatory names, and diminishing her feelings of self-worth.  On the contrary, it shows selfies of attractive young people in white, ribbed tank tops, moody looking models in the same white shirt leaning seductively against a brick wall, and “comedic” status updates about looking good in “sparkly wifebeaters”.  One might even come across pictures of smiling children wearing what their parents refer to as a “wifebeater”.

Well… #itscalledatanktop…a “wifebeater” is something very different.



  • 85% of victims are women.
  • One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • Women between the ages of 20 and 24 are at greatest risk of nonfatal violence.
  • Only 25% of offenses are reported.
  • In New Jersey, 31% of reported cases involve children.
  • Domestic violence is rarely an isolated event but rather a pattern of behavior to control an intimate partner.
  • With proper mental health treatment and support, survivors of domestic violence – both the victims and their children – can and do recover and build healthy, happy lives.

Most people are unaware of the prevalence and severity of domestic violence throughout the United States. And, they are unaware of what the term “wifebeater” truly means and the violence associated with it.

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