Domestic Viloence Essay, Research Paper
Love Dosen t Have to Hurt
· In 1985, 1,350 women were killed by their spouses or ex spouses. (256)
· 85% of spousal murder cases has had prior contact with the police, 50% have been called at least 5 times. (256)
· 85-95% of assault victims and 2/3 of domestic murder victims are women. (256)
All of these statistics taken from Battered Justice by Joan Meir in American Culture and the Media show that even if and when police intervene in domestic violence incidents the cases were not taken seriously. Many judges just believe there are more serious matters to contend to (257). There are several reasons that police, prosecutors and judges don t take domestic violence cases seriously, but at the core is the belief that wife beating is not a crime.
In 1976, twelve battered wives sued the city police department and family courts for failing to arrest and prosecute men who attacked their wives, just because they were married. In some cases, the police refused to arrest because they had not seen the assault. Many states have historically prohibited arrest on misdemeanor but not felony charges unless the officer witnessed the crime.
In most cases, however, the legal excuses often give way to the real reasons for not arresting. Jean Cook stated They said they couldn t do anything because he was my husband. (268). Even if couples are only considered common law husband and wife, nothing is done. Some police stations, about 70%, have implemented family crisis intervention training programs for the officers. Many believe given their occupational bias toward punishing offenders, that they are eagerly embracing this soft approach toward domestic violence. This continues to worsen the original problems.
In the rare cases that prosecutors press charges the crime is usually considered a misdemeanor, rather than a felony regardless of the severity of the assault. When pressed for reasons for dropping charges, many argue insufficient evidence and that many women are not willing to press charges at all. Why some victims drop charges is unclear; fear and intimidation is sometimes a factor. When women ask for help, they sometimes are not satisfied because the judges frequently refuse to grant orders of protection when the parties are married or have been seeing each other. The Minnesota Federal District court firmly stated that a man is not allowed to physically abuse or endanger a women merely because he is her husband . (258). This dropped the rate of domestic violence drastically in Minnesota over the next few months.
A firm criminal justice response has seemed to work, in most cases. After Minnesota instituted a mandatory arrest program, 70 out of 86 women reported at the end of two years that the combine assistance of police, courts and shelters were helpful in ending their abusers violence. One former abuser said in the National Institute of Justice report : It was such an extreme experience having actually been arrested and dealt with rather harshly …that I sought help. (258). A study done by the police foundation concluded that when the officer advised the suspect and did not lock him up, violence reoccurred within six months in 35% of the cases. When the suspect was arrested, even if they weren t prosecuted later, violence reoccurred in only 19%of the cases.
Battered Justice has many crucial points, which inform the reader in a way that is very persuasive. The statistics that support the tremendous amount of battered women and the lack of supports from the courts is one of the many strong points of the essay. Anyone reading this essay would be overwhelmed with the evidence showing how the police and judges do not come through for most of these battered women.
On the other hand, the essay does have a one-sided view in many aspects. Joan Meier does point out the various family counseling sessions endured by the officers. The author goes on to show how it is just another loop hole for them not to prosecute the batterer. Her opinion is strong and evident throughout, entangled by shocking statistics and dramatic language.
Before reading this essay, I was not aware of the injustice being done by our officials in domestic violence cases. I believe women deserve protection, even if they are dating or married to the batterer. Just because not all women follow through with prosecutions it does not take away the right for police protection, or for the judges to grant them restraining orders. I don t believe anyone could sum up the situation with domestic violence any better than it was said by Joan Meir; The refusal of the police and the courts to insist that domestic violence is a crime allows people to go on believing it s not so bad. It s time to teach a new set of lessons. (259) Very well stated.