A study so painful in its case histories and reported numbers of women abused by men that most readers will flinch as they absorb it; by the author of Women Who Kill (1980). But that is Jones's purpose: to rouse men and women-- especially legislators, judges, police, and social workers who fail to protect women--to awareness. Among the numbers: from 1967 to 1973, 17,500 women and children were killed in the US by ``battering men,'' slightly less than half the number of men killed in Vietnam during the same period. Two decades later, police receive reports of more than 21,000 ``domestic assaults'' (including rape and murder) every week. Women's legal struggle to secure a life free of violence dates back to English common law and to 19th-century American statutes that permitted husbands to ``chastise'' their wives without danger of prosecution. Although subsequent laws protect women and children against abuse, the right of a man to control ``his'' woman lurks in the public consciousness--leading to cops reluctant to interfere in ``domestic disputes''; judges wary of imprisoning men convicted of wife-beating; and a general tendency to blame the victim--even when, Jones says, she's made every effort to escape her oppressor. The author cites instances of women assaulted and killed while living under so-called orders of protection, and of women attacked where they should be safest: in the courthouse (lawyers and judges number among the victims). What can be done? Jones suggests changing the focus of inquiry from the women who are battered to the men who attack, and questioning the ``hydraulic'' theory of human behavior--that violence wells up in men and must be released. She offers guidelines for change--including the passage of the ERA- -that would affect how we view women both as societal members and as human beings. A powerful, frightening report that drives home the fact that doing violence to another is tolerated in this society--especially if the victim is a female sex partner.