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Family Violence: A Problem Further Explained

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Family violence is a crime that unfortunately plagues many families, partners, and households nationwide. Family violence can range from arguing, to physical altercations, and at times, death. While the name implies only family members can perpetrate this type of violence, boyfriends/girlfriends can carry it out, as well as a household roommate. In order to understand family violence to a greater degree, criminal justice agencies and officers alike, must understand the role both parties play. In addition, criminal justice personnel must understand the different types of violence involved, as well as the victimization it can cause, not only at the hands of the offender, but also by the criminal justice system itself. By embracing a greater understanding of family violence offenses as a whole, as well as understanding the different mind-sets of victims and offenders alike, law enforcement officials and criminal justice personnel will be able to protect those who fall victim to it, and provide help to those who are offenders of family violence.

keywords: family violence, victimization,

Family Violence: A Problem Further Explained

Throughout history, the criminal justice system has formed various different opinions in regards to domestic violence. These range from protecting women, to believing they are strong enough to take care of themselves, and then finally back to protecting victims of domestic violence. These ideologies help convey various differences in public opinions towards domestic violence, and how much blame should be placed on the victims themselves. Through proper research in this area, many criminal justice agencies and lawmakers can develop and implement various policies and laws, which will aim not only to protect the victims, but also to lower re-victimization levels, as well as providing adequate education, punishment, and counselling for those who are the perpetrators of this nasty crime.

Description/Explanation of the Topic/Issue

The question many ask of victims of domestic violence is why they stay in abusive relationships (Nitu, 2012). Leaving an abusive relationship is, most of the times, easier said than done. As Nitu (2012) notes, many women who are in abusive relationships have a true fear of further violence if they leave, attempt to leave, or seek help in dealing with an abusive relationship. These fears transcend their fears for their own personal safety and move onto their fears of abuse to their children, if any are present. As a society, we have the right to ask that question. As of 2003, domestic violence was costing the United States over 8 billion dollars, with over 1 billion of that cost being for fatalities due to domestic violence situations (Nitu, 2012). Furthermore, the risk for children who are present in abusive relationships rise as well. Not only will the chances of the children being abused rise, but the probability they themselves will become engaged in abusive relationships rise as well. When children are involved in domestic violence situations, implementation of intervention programs will teach them the consequences of domestic violence. The focus of any criminal justice society should be to support the abused in leaving abusive relationships. Stress should be put on the importance of the safety of any children involved, life is better outside of the abusive relationship, and the victim does not need to feel dependent on their abuser.

Through Artz (2011) research, it was found the reduction rate in family violence cases in the court system in regards to protective orders were due to less than half of women follow up with the courts to receive final orders; why is this? Current laws allow women to apply for protective orders, which help prevent further acts of violence against the victim from the offender. This process generally follows two steps: the victim applying for a protective order, which the magistrate will generally approve if there is enough prima facie evidence violence occurred in the household, and ultimately procuring a final protective order from the court (Artz, 2011). Artz (2011) states one dilemma facing victims who file domestic violence cases with the police and courts is the threat of further violence, which can be much worse than the original incident. This can be true for the mere application of a protective order as well. At times when a victim applies for the protective order, a ‘boomerang effect’ develops; that is the offender escalates his or her threats and violence towards the victim in order to make the victim drop the order and further charges (Artz, 2011, p. 6). In the most severe of cases, victims and their families find themselves threatened with death if they do not drop charges. Some studies showed a positive correlation between the violent threats towards victims and their decision not to pursue charges or any other mediation (Artz, 2011). In other words, threatened violence by the offender directed towards the victim was a reason behind the victim failing to cooperate. Artz (2011) further notes studies performed in the 1990’s showed women may not follow through with the process due to the criminal justice process itself. The process is very time consuming and with multiple court dates, taking off work and finding adequate childcare can create issues (Artz, 2011, p. 8). These studies also found the problems that can occur with the service of protection orders, misunderstanding of the criminal justice system itself, and once again, being afraid of the offender, will serve as a determining factor in a victims’ willingness to cooperate with further court proceedings. Artz (2011) further indicates the failure of victims to cooperate with the process can make problems worse, as the cycle of family violence grows worse over time. As noted above, if a victim seeks mediation, from either the police or courts, the violence can turn deadly (Artz, 2011). This is true not only for the victim, but for the family and any children involved. Because of this, women use reasoning in order to make a decision on whether or not to continue with the criminal justice process, which with the problems noted above, can be viewed as unreliable (Artz, 2011).

One problem facing the problem of domestic violence is the perception the victim has towards the police and the opinions they form (Stewart, Langan, & Hannem, 2013). Stewart et al. (2013) indicate studies show the victim can base their decision to continue with prosecution solely based off their interaction with the initial investigating officers. If the interaction is not a positive one, the victim may decide against following through with prosecution. However, if the interaction is positive, the victim may follow through with procuring protection orders, prosecution itself, and in some cases leaving the violent relationship. Stewart et al. (2013) note female victims whose initial investigating officer is also a female tend to have a less positive view on the interaction due to the female officer not being as sympathetic to them. That being said, this opinion is not absolute, as some women believ...

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...found ultimately went against public opinions on who was prosecuted for these cases. The study found cases where the female was a defendant was less likely to be dismissed than those whose offender was an African American or Hispanic male. Studies also showed in cases where the victim was an African American or Hispanic female, the chance of prosecution was less. Romain and Freiburger (2013) also found when an African American was given bail for a domestic violence offense; their chances of prosecution were greater than those, of the same race, who had prior felony convictions. As for the age of offenders, no data supported the public opinion that younger offenders were more violent than older offenders were (Romain and Freiburger, 2013).

Policy Implications

Works Cited

Artz, L. (2011). Fear or failure?: Why victims of domestic violence retract from the criminal justice process. SA Crime Quarterly, (37), 3-10.

Auchter, B., & Backes, B. L. (2013). NIJ’s program of domestic violence research: Collaborative efforts to build knowledge guided by safety for victims and accountability of perpetrators. Violence Against Women, 19(6), 713-736. doi:10.1177/1077801213494703.

Belknap, J., & Potter, H. (2005). The trials of measuring the “success” of domestic violence policies. Criminology & Public Policy, 4(3), 559-566.

Carney, M., & Buttell, F. P. (2005). Exploring the relevance of attachment theory as a dependent variable in the treatment of women mandated into treatment for domestic violence offenses. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 41(4), 33-61. doi:10.1300/J076v41 n04̱02.

Eigenberg, H. M., Kappeler, V. E., & McGuffee, K. (2012). Confronting the complexities of domestic violence: A social prescription for rethinking police training. Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations, 12(2), 122-145. doi:10.1080/15332586.2012.717045.

Nitu, A. (2012). The consequences of domestic violence on women and children. Journal of Criminal Investigation, 5(1), 86-91.

Pitts, W. J., Givens, E., & McNeeley, S. (2009). The need for a holistic approach to specialized domestic violence court programming: Evaluating offender rehabilitation needs and recidivism. Juvenile & Family Court Journal, 60(3), 1-21. doi:10.1111/j.1755-6988.2009.01029.x.

Policastro, C., & Payne, B. K. (2013). The blameworthy victim: Domestic violence myths and the criminalization of victimhood. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 22(4), 329-347. doi:10.1080/10926771.2013.775985.

Ramsey, C. B. (2013). The exit myth: Family law, gender roles, and changing attitudes toward female victims of domestic violence. Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, 20(1), 1-32.

Romain, D. M., & Freiburger, T. L. (2013). Prosecutorial discretion for domestic violence cases: an examination of the effects of offender race, ethnicity, gender, and age. Criminal Justice Studies, 26(3), 289-307. doi:10.1080/1478601X.2012.745399.

Shuler, C. A. (2010). Male victims of intimate partner violence in the United States: An examination of the review of literature through the critical theoretical perspective. International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, 5(1), 163-173.

Stewart, C., Langan, D., & Hannem, S. (2013). Victim experiences and perspectives on police responses to verbal violence in domestic settings. Feminist Criminology, 8(4), 269-294. doi:10.1177/1557085113490782.

Zosky, D. L. (2010). Accountability in teenage dating violence: A comparative examination of adult domestic violence and juvenile justice systems policies. Social Work, 55(4), 359-368.
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