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Are Policies Helping in Curbing Domestic Violence Part 2

By Edited Jan 12, 2014 0 0


This is a continuation of the artice "Are Policies Helping in Curbing Domestic Violence Part 1".

Mandatory Arrest

The term domestic violence is not intended to put it in an inferior level. It is called domestic violence because it occurs in a home. Again, the very nature of the crime and the policy work on opposite direction. For one, police is not allowed to enter a home uninvited. In fact, police is not allowed to meddle in domestic affairs. This means that for the police to have the right to make an arrest, the victims must initiate the request. The police has requested that domestic violence issues be a mandatory part of their routine response (Stanko, 1985). However, this has brought forth a new set of complications.

Police officers are often left with the lone responsibility on whether they will make an arrest when they are faced with a domestic violence case. The aggravated consequence of making an arrest pushes more officers to not make an arrest (Brown, 1984; Buzawa & Austin, 1993; Dolon, Hendricks, & Meagher, 1986; Ferraro, 1989b; Klinger, 1995; Oppenlander, 1982; Zoomer, 1989). Officers are found to be influenced by the cultural dictates that domestic conflicts are not a part of the jurisdiction of anyone else but those that are in the relationship (Homant & Kennedy, 1985; Belknap, 1995).

When the officer makes the decision not to make an arrest, the responsibility is shifted back to the victim. It is important to understand that women who were hit, even if it is their first time, have been in an abusive relationship for a long time because physical abuse does not happen overnight. Hoyle pointed out this fact. Women attested that men work their way up towards physical abuse. It begins mild suggestions on how they should do things and what decisions to make. Eventually, they get used to relying on their partner. Men will eventually escalate to mental, verbal and emotional abuse. When they get to a point when they are completely powerless, that’s when physical abuse begins.

When a woman gets to that point, they are already psychologically damaged (o’ Connor, 2002; Perna, 1996; MacPherson, 1999; Bachman & Coker, 1995). Shifting the decision back to someone who is already psychologically damaged is not only risky, it is downright unreasonable. Buzawa and Austin (1993) found out that when the victim expresses intentions have her aggressor arrested, officers do as expected.

This again puts the whole policy in question. There seem a lack of recognition between policy implementation and cultural constructs by which police officers and other involved in the implementation of the policy live. Officers are no less human when they are in human as they are out of it. As such, they bring with them principles and beliefs which have been honed from the day they were born. Such principles influence how they perform their job. This principle and culture constructs involves the belief that domestic matters are domestic concerns. Officers must recognize that the women the victims cannot be counted on to make the right decisions because they are not in the proper psychological disposition.


As early as the 80s, psychotherapy has been studied as a part of the domestic violence prevention (Purdy & Nicle, 1981). This policy has different programs included anger management, barterer intervention, domestic abuse intervention projects, and other. Some cases require both the victim and the aggressor to go through therapy while others only require the aggressor.

Hoyle (2000) determined that many of the victims of domestic abuse believe that their aggressors are sick but are not really violent by nature. They often blame drugs or alcohol or psychological disorders. This prompts the warm response to Psychotherapy (Pence & Paymar, 1993; Skyner & Water, 1999).

There is, however, one major pitfall in this program. It validates that an aggressor’s act of hitting a woman is not a matter of choice but a matter of need because they are sick. It puts them in a positive light and even builds empathy. This motivates many of the women who have been abused to wait for their partners to become better (Stanko 1985). It also gives the message that the aggressor is more important than the victim. While the psychological disorder of the aggressor is being dealt with, there is no assistance in rehabilitating the victim who is most likely just as sick as the aggressor.


It cannot be asked of the government to change its policies. It is its natural social and moral obligation to treat domestic abusers as criminals and it is necessary for the act of domestic battery as a criminal act. However, it must now re-examine the whole framework of domestic violence. It needs to consider and understand the aggressor is not the only one that needs assistance and rehabilitation, but also the victim.

There is also an apparent need for the police to be required to take a more vigilant approach in making arrests, investigating and identifying domestic abusers. They should be held responsible for the actions they don’t take as much as they are held responsible for the actions they take.

Click here for Part 2.



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