For as long as there has been human history, there has been conflict. Sadly enough, within the family boundaries, where one should be the safest, conflict can sometimes escalate into violence. The goal of this paper is to develop a policy that will enable law enforcement and family intervention services effectively to guide family members into non-violent resolutions, and outline policies to protect the elderly. Statistics
While the numbers may not be very accurate because some who have been the victim of domestic violence refuse to report it, out of fear, no support or nowhere to go, the numbers of abuse cases that are reported is stunning, to say the least. When it comes to domestic violence, though women are usually the victim, it can happen to men as well as teenagers. Somewhere in America, a woman is battered every 15 seconds. Violence against women consists primarily of domestic violence.
A recent survey found that 64% of women who reported being raped, stalked, or physically assaulted since age 18 had been victimized by intimate partners (Statistics, 2004). Episodes reported are rarely first time occurrences. Senior citizens should be enjoying their “golden years. ” Sadly, for some, they too are the victim of domestic violence. While physical and emotional abuse still fall under the heading of domestic violence where the elderly are concerned, there are other criteria that falls under abuse. The meaning of elder abuse is defined as various types of abuse against someone age 60 or 65 or older.
They may include: physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; financial exploitation; neglect, self-neglect and abandonment (National, 2009). This abuse can happen at home or in nursing homes. The abuse of the elderly is also underreported. Data on elder abuse in domestic settings suggest that 1 in 14 incidents, excluding incidents of self-neglect, come to the attention of authorities. It is estimated that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self neglect reported to authorities, about five more go unreported (Elder Abuse 2008). Facts
Domestic abuse knows no socioeconomic boundary, specific race, religion, color or gender. It can also happen within teenage relationships and between same-sex partnerships. About one out of every four women in America will be physically assaulted or raped by someone they know intimately at some point in his or her life. The fact is American women are more likely to be battered, injured, raped or killed by a male partner than by any other type of attacker. Estimates of assaults on women by partners range from approximately two to four million annually in the United States.
The majority of women killed at work are murdered by a current or former intimate partner (Facts About 2008). However, while most of the focus is on women being abused by men, men have been abused by women, although, again, the reporting is sporadic. Society has always looked at men as the strong, capable ones; able to defend themselves in any situation. For some, to report being abused by a woman is to question their masculinity. One assumes than a man with a bruise or black eye was either in a fight with another man, injured on the job or playing contact sports.
Even when men do report domestic abuse and violence, most people are so astonished men usually end up feeling like nobody believes them (Domestic Violence, 2007). Public Opinion History In the 1960s, the women’s freedom movement began putting the spotlight on violence directed against women. As a result, the battered women’s movement began to form. Its focus was on the outrage of women who argued that cases of violence against women in the home added up to a huge and intolerable social problem. By the end of the 1970s, figures showed that remote cases of abuse were part of an outrageous national problem.
The battered women’s movement is found, becoming one of the most powerful social justice and service movements in United States history (Ghez ; Marin, 2002). Emergency shelters and hotline numbers began to show up across the nation. There were more women in need of these programs then anyone had anticipated and the stories some of these women told were horrific: law enforcement officials who mislabeled family disturbances, judges who ruled in favor of the offender and healthcare providers who mishandled violence-related injuries (Ghez ; Marin, 2002).
In 1994, then President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This bill provided more than $1 billion to assist shelters, train law enforcement personnel, judges, and support other crime-prevention efforts addressing violence against women. Domestic violence was also brought to the forefront when O. J. Simpson went on trial for allegedly killing his ex-wife, Nicole and her friend. It came out in court that Nicole had contacted law enforcement several times regarding the alleged abuse she had received.
Even though he was found innocent of criminal charges, his trial incited extraordinary media exposure on the issue of domestic violence. Victims of domestic aggression, dating violence, sexual battery and stalking have been able to access services and new generations of families and justice system professionals have come to realize that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking are crimes that will not be tolerated by society (Ghez ; Marin, 2002).
Elder abuse first came to the attention of the public in the 1970s, although Congress passed legislation, as part of the Social Security Act, to provide money to the states on a three-to-one matching basis for setting up protective service units when renewed interest in elder abuse became apparent, in part due to congressional hearings. During a hearing, a witness referred to an incident as “granny battering. ” The subject matter made members of Congress, particularly the late Claude Pepper of Florida, take notice (Wolf, R.
2001). When the elderly are abused, they can feel cut off with nowhere to go, especially if they have no other family or they have a handicap that could prevent them from leaving. Another thing to take into consideration is the embarrassment and shame that some of the elderly feel over the abuse. Prosecuting these cases can become difficult because the victim may not want to press charges against a child or grandchild. Politicians Domestic violence is a subject that politicians mostly shy away from.
During the past election, hardly a word was mentioned by either candidate about this issue, although when Joe Biden was running for president, he did mention his stand on domestic violence. He was the only candidate to give premium campaign space to the issue. He highlighted domestic violence on the home page of his campaign Web site with a clip of a filmed speech about domestic violence and links to newspaper articles about his efforts to address the issue in the Senate (Stevens, 2007).
And, since 1994, he has wanted to increase federal funding for domestic violence programs and to increase the scope of the federal response to domestic violence with a measure to create an electronic network of 100,000 lawyers willing to volunteer work on behalf of victims (Stevens, 2007). While that may be a good start, more needs to be done to combat this problem; a problem that has gotten bigger since the economy has gotten weaker. Judges
Until a victim’s case comes to court, they remain vulnerable to their offender. The accused can violate a restraining order, hurt the victim again or try to intimidate them into dropping the charges. To explore a new way to minimize these risks, the U. S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) started the Judicial Oversight Demonstration, a field test that requested judges to take a more vigorous role in managing domestic violence cases before trial.
There were only three courts that took part in this test: Dorchester, Massachusetts; Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Ann Arbor, Michigan (Domestic Violence Courts 2008). The sites involved in the field test modified their arrest policies and treatment referral practices so each site would follow uniform and consistent responses, including: • Pro-arrest policies—at the crime scene, officers were encouraged to arrest the primary aggressor.
• Coordination between victim advocacy and services—victim advocates worked with law enforcement and the court to develop a safety plan for the victim and provide treatment services. • Strong accountability and oversight—courts carefully supervised arrestees, referred them to intervention programs and instituted penalties if arrestees violated the terms of their probation (Domestic Violence Courts 2008). In addition, court officials took the time to improve the services for victims and offenders and updated measures and practices.
All courts: require law enforcement to have experience in dealing with domestic violence, have specialized court procedures, improved probation and offender intervention services, ask prosecutors to expend the use of evidence that they have, recommend the best practices so the prosecutors could have a stronger case, speed up procedures for protection order hearings and regularly schedule hearings for those on parole to assure compliance (Domestic Violence Courts 2008). Prosecutors
Prosecutors have a tough role when it comes to bringing domestic violence cases to court. Victims may change their minds at the last minute, for fear of retaliation from the offender; too much time has gone by between the arrest and the court date that the victim has moved on, or the victim just wants the violence to stop, not have the offender arrested. Because these kinds of cases are different from other cases that are heard, prosecutors have to approach the case, and victim, in another way.
First, they need to understand how the victim is feeling in all this and not worry about their conviction rates. They should undergo training to understand why victims are hesitant to press charges. Another thing prosecutors can do is work closely with law enforcement to make the best case possible, thus not needing the victim’s testimony. Defense Attorneys Defense attorneys have devised a few steps that can give their clients a better chance of being found not guilty of domestic violence or getting them a reduced sentence.
Here are just a few suggestions: post bail as quickly as possible and try to start mending fences with the victim; if no communication is allowed, contact a family member or friend to let them know that you feel bad about what happened: depict the abuse as an isolated incident, after all, most people lose their temper in the heat of the moment: let the attorney know if there were drugs or alcohol involved as this may have been the reason for the abuse: question the personality of the victim; this tactic is often used to dispute the victim’s statement (How to Defend, 2009).
Correction officers and Administrators Probation plays a critical role in the corresponding reaction to domestic violence cases by operating as an offender accountability agency whose main focus is on the victim and public safety. The investigation, capture, trial, and verdict phases within the criminal justice system serve as immediate answers to specific criminal behaviors (Community Corrections 2008). The role that probation officers and administrators have is an important one.
It allows for continuing, rigorous supervision and case managing of the offenders. This is especially important with respect to domestic violence cases, which usually happens as patterns of specific behavior over time, often while the offender has been given consent to remain in close contact with the victim. Probation’s long-term management abilities serve to improve offender responsibility by imposing individual terms and conditions on the offender while employing a series of fitting violations for non-compliance with those terms and conditions.
Additionally, probation is in a unique place to support necessary collaborative relationships that have to exist between the multiple agencies charged with swift, effective, appropriate responses to all domestic violence offenders (Community Corrections 2008). Law enforcement officers and Administrators Domestic situations can be one of the most dangerous calls an officer will face in his or her career. There have been times when the responding officer is subduing the offender; the victim will turn on the officer, particularly in husband/wife situations. Law enforcement needs to be trained in how to handle these types of situations.
They have to reinforce protection orders; make sure they have information available to victims to point them in the right direction as far as what kind of help that is out there for them; use innovative dialogue, fact gathering, and probable cause determination techniques in domestic violence cases and they need to conduct more efficient investigations to hold offenders responsible, thereby preventing future abuse. Victims As hard as it is for the victims, they need to understand and believe that there are people and programs available out there to help them.
Gone are the days where there was nowhere to turn and no one to talk to. Victims are usually conditioned over time to believe that they have no worth and are undeserving of praise. Whether the victim is 18 or 80, help is just a phone call away. The road from victim to survivor can be a long one, especially for the young and the old; the young because, depending on how long the abuse has been going on, it could be the only thing they know; the old because, during the course of one’s life, family and friends can move away or pass on, thus leaving the one left behind feeling alone.
Law abiding citizens For those that follow the law, it can be difficult to comprehend what a victim of violence goes through. However, in the end, even law abiding citizens pay the price for violence. The cost of lost wages, hospital bills and missed work affects everyone. Neighbors can become potential targets of the abuser if they try to intervene and step in if they hear yelling or screaming coming from next door. Society as a whole pays for the broken bones as well as the broken families. Policy Recommendation
While there have been many new policies concerning domestic violence, more can and should be done. Politicians need to toughen penalties for those who have been charged at least once with physical violence. For those who have been charged with domestic violence, but have not physically harmed anyone yet, they need immediate counseling to ensure that they get the help they need before that line is crossed. Law enforcement needs to stay up to date on the latest techniques and technology when it comes to handling violent offenders.
Corrections need to maintain a constant vigil on the offenders so, if they violate any part of their probation, they go back to jail before they can hurt someone. Conclusion Violence is all around us. It can be seen in movies, television, heard on the radio and even in cartoons. Some sporting events even glamorize it but, as anyone can tell you that has been touched by violence, nothing can be further from the truth. Education is one of the most powerful weapons when it comes to handling domestic violence. The more information distributed, the better educated the public becomes.
The purpose is not to create more arrests or criminalize more people but to find more constructive and less violent ways to handle situations. To accomplish this requires the cooperation between all fields in the criminal justice system. Reference Community Corrections. (2008) Retrieved Aug 15, 2009, from NYS-OPDV Web site: http://www. opdv. state. ny. us/professionals/criminal_justice/corrections/index. html Ghez, M. & Marin, L. Encyclopedia of Public Health. Ed. Lester Breslow. Gale Cengage, 2002. eNotes. com. 2006. Retrieved Aug 15,2009 Web site: http://www. enotes.
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