*WashPo changed the title of the piece but you can see the original one if you mouse over the link above.
How about a little experiment--take the same chart and think about it some more? Here we go:
Wow, single mothers get attacked more than other women! However, there is good news: the trend is heading down. This raises two questions: why are single mothers attacked? And why is this going down?
Perhaps single mothers are being attacked because they are ex-wives, and we know that violence against women tends to increase as they try to separate from their abuser. Perhaps this might have something to do with poverty since single mothers tend to be poor. Single mothers are clearly vulnerable for a variety of reasons, so we should not be surprised at all that single mothers face more violence than other women.
How about the trend downwards? Is this because society is increasingly intolerant of those that abuse women? That would have the biggest impact on single mothers since they are the ones at greatest risk. Perhaps laws have changed so that penalties are harsher? Perhaps the courts are better at ruling in favor of the beaten rather than the beaters, serving as both deterrent (folks may not beat as much) and prevention of repetition (the beaters are in prison). Perhaps being a single mom is less taboo and thus violence against them is more taboo?
We sure could use more social science to figure out why single mothers are so vulnerable and what has reduced the frequency of violence against especially these women.
Here's hoping a national newspaper does some serious investigation.