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Abstract It is only recently that domestic violence has been considered a violation of the law.
Although men have battered, abused and mistreated their wives or intimate partners for a long time, historically, wife or partner abuse has been viewed as a "normal" part of marriage or intimate relationships.
This article surveys the history of domestic violence as a criminal offense, and the justice system response to woman battering incidents. It first discusses the definition of the offense including debates around the offense definition, and the prevalence and reported frequency of the behavior termed woman battering.
Next it outlines the responses of the police, and the prosecution of domestic violence. The article also discusses research findings related to domestic violence and the criminal justice system, along with current controversies concerning the justice approach to domestic violence, its law enforcement, and related unfolding trends in the movement to address domestic violence through the criminal justice system.
Erez, Edna, January 31, Men have battered, abused and mistreated their wives or intimate partners for a long time. Historically, wife or partner abuse has been viewed as a "normal" part of marriage or intimate relationships; an experience that women who have entered marriage or established relationships should expect, or tolerate.
This article, written from the perspective of domestic violence and the criminal justice system in the United States of America U. It first discusses the definition of the offense, the prevalence of the behavior and its reported frequency. The article also discusses research findings related to domestic violence and the criminal justice system, along with current controversies related to domestic violence, its law enforcement and future trends in the movement to address domestic violence through the criminal justice system.
Definitional and Prevalence Issues Most jurisdictions in the U. Criminal codes specifically listing the behavior as a crime rather than merely addressing it within the general law of assault refer to it as family or domestic violence. There has been much debate revolving around the use of the term "domestic violence" to describe intimate violence or partner abuse.
Research has shown that in violence between intimate partners, men Criminal justice topics for a research paper commonly the aggressors and women typically are the victims.
In the overwhelming majority of cases reported to the police, and subsumed under the category of domestic violence in police records, women are the victims. Kurz,however, challenged the term "family violence" and the conception of intimate violence as "mutual combat" Straus, They argue that the term family or domestic violence is misleading because it disguises the fact that women are typically the victims in domestic violence, and that underlying the abusive behavior is male control and domination.
They recommend that the term family violence be replaced with "woman battering", which more accurately describes the majority of cases of domestic violence Kurz, Researchers have also pointed out that although there are cases in which women assault their intimate partners, the experience of women being battered by men is different from that of males being battered by females.
Many of these cases include situations where women who have suffered abuse either in the specific moment or, more commonly, over a prolonged period of time, have reacted by defending themselves. These cases include women who have thwarted the aggression of their partner or acted violently due to the extremely tenuous psychological state they were in following a lengthy and continuous abuse by their batterer Browne, ; Walker, Although conflict and aggressive behavior characterize many marital or intimate relationships, research demonstrates that serious harm from abuse incidents are commonly found in cases in which men abuse their female partners.
Increase in arrest rates following legal reforms of mandatory or presumed arrest has been partially related to the "dual arrest" policy, namely, police inclination to arrest both the male perpetrator and his female partner, because in most domestic violence encounters the parties involved tend to file charges and counter-charges Martin, An observed increased arrest rate of women in domestic violence cases has been attributed to this policy Ferraro, a ; the criminal justice system response has not always been commensurate with the harm experienced by victims of battering Research suggests that the prevalence and frequency of the behavior termed domestic violence is high, regardless of the method employed to study its extent Worden, a.
There is evidence to suggest that estimates of intimate violence produced by various studies employing different methods are lower that their true incidence, as victims of intimate violence tend to underreport the behavior to researchers.
Police records provide even a lower estimate of the incidence of domestic violence, as many victims avoid reporting the victimization to the police.
Victims refrain from reporting abuse to officials for many reasons. Oftentimes in the beginning of the relationship, victims feel shame, guilt or inadequacy about their presumed contribution to the conflict. Other reasons include fear of losing the financial or economic support the abuser provides, desire to keep the family unit intact, concern for their children, emotional attachment to the abuser, and perceived or real lack of options to leave the abuser and become self sustaining.
Fear of the abuser becomes a major reason for non-reporting of the violence as the violence increases or intensifies. Abusers often threaten to kill their partners if they leave, and research has shown that such threats need to be taken seriously, as "separation assault" Mahoney, is a common situation in which victims are injured or even killed.
Intimate violence defined as criminal includes related offenses such as stalking, which often takes place after a relationship has ended. There are, however, many forms of abuse between current and past relationships that are not considered criminal offenses, even though they are part of the abuse pattern and they often precede, co-occur or even substitute for physical violence.
Although some of these behaviors may be illegal in other contexts, many of them remain outside the ordinary reach of the criminal law and the justice system if they occur within the context of intimate relationships.
For the purpose of this article, domestic violence is defined as threatening or injurious physical, psychological, sexual, verbal or economic behavior directed toward an intimate partner, regardless of marital status or whether the behavior occurs within current or terminated relationships.
Because most acts of domestic violence are perpetrated by men against women, woman battering is the focus of this article. Historical Background Domestic violence appears to be a cultural universal; its historical roots are as ancient as they are deep.
Domestic violence appears to be a cultural universal; its historical roots are as ancient as they are deep. The emergence of monogamous pairing relationships, designed to provide women protection from violation by men other than their spouses and guarantee husbands their identities and rights as fathers, resulted in a dependency status of wives in the legal, social and economic spheres Martin, The monogamous marriage was characterized by differential power between the partners.
In medieval times, husbands had the power of life and death over their dependents and the right to unrestrained physical chastisement of members of the household, including their wives and children Pleck, Physical cruelty, including murder of a wife or a serf, was allowed as long as it was inflicted for disciplinary purposes Davis, NCJA/BJA Webinar Series.
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Acknowledgements. The NCSL Sentencing and Corrections Work Group was staffed and this report was prepared by Alison Lawrence, policy specialist, and Donna Lyons, group director, for the Criminal Justice .
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