Actions against domestic violence perpetrators by human services officials have been controversial ever since legislation deemed it a crime. The sensitivity of this issue in many occasions limits the extent to which human services personnel can intervene because ultimately families are separated either temporarily or for life. As such, the following pages of this document present a history of the phenomenon; an assessment of its sociological significance from a human services conceptual framework and evaluation of current intervention strategies in making relevant recommendations.
The effects of arresting domestic violence perpetrators
The US Center for Disease Control categorizes domestic violence as reciprocal describing perpetual confrontation of both people with each other, and non-reciprocal implicating beating, abuse, battery and emotional trauma inflicted on one partner by the other (US Center for Disease Control, 2012). Historically, from a human services conceptual framework domestic violence calls were viewed as very perturbing and most challenging to address because when officers arrived at the scene there were obvious signs of violent emotional outbursts.
Inaccurate documentation by law enforcement prior to the 1970’s misrepresented the true impact of domestic violence on society since all brawls in the community were classified as domestic violence. However, figures published after this date have revealed how this dysfunction has truly eroded family life expectations (Maxwell et.al, 2008).
Law enforcement intervention studies since then has revealed that once during 1974-1976 police responded to 85% of spousal homicides in Kansas City. This was after feminist groups propelled a movement to stop female battery to the extent of holding law enforcement responsible for fatalities occurring due to domestic violence. These groups were rather vocal in Los Angeles's, Oakland, California's and New York City ( Police Foundation,1976).
Further, the Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment conducted by Lawrence Sherman between 1981–1982 evaluated police responses to domestic violence calls in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This was inclusive of arresting the abuser; holding in custody for at least eight hours and recommending counseling for the family, especially, if children were involved ( Police Foundation,1976).
Is it possible to eliminate domestic violence from society?
What measures can human services institute to limit domestic violence in society?
Domestic violence perpetrators demonstrate dysfunctional behaviors, which cannot be addressed through arrests and counseling only.
Theoretically, domestic violence is demonstrated through acts of abuse. This abuse could be verbal creating emotional trauma, physical denoting bodily harm or situational whereby the individual is denied financial support and sexual favors are demanded or withdrawn. The intervening variable is that the perpetuator can adopt a number of abuse tactics singularly or collectively. Sociologists identify the motive as a means of establishing social control based on egotism (Bowen et.al, 2002).
The research questions seek to answer whether domestic violence can be eliminated from society/ what measures human services can adopt to limit the incidences. In addressing the first question it must be understood that in some cultures wife beating is an acceptable practice. The same is true of whipping children in the home. Research has shown where some women contribute to their abuse and look forward to it as a sign of being loved ( Carney et.al,2008). As such, considerations are that for domestic violence to be eradicated from society it means new cultural paradigms have to be inculcated.
Human services cannot make arrests as police does, but their intervention must cater towards collaborating with police in assisting to re-educate perpetuators that their behavior is dysfunctional. Cleary, the effects of arresting domestic violence perpetuators are that families become disintegrated. Also, when perpetuators are kept in custody and return home the actions may be abated for a few weeks or months due to fear of being arrested again.
Soon as the fear is conquered a cycle of abuse is rekindled. Precisely, the true effects can be described as creating more dysfunction within the family structure. Absence of father or mother’s support places greater burden on human services to financially upkeep children who may be tossed from one foster home to the next from absence of one or both parents.
Importantly, agencies and jurisdictions across United States are allowed to develop unique
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) regarding how to respond to domestic violence notifications. Even with mandatory police arrests, it is left to the law enforcement officer’s discretion in taking such action because it is enact without a warrant (Carney et.al, 2008).
The hypothesis remains, ‘Domestic violence perpetrators demonstrate dysfunctional behaviors, which cannot be addressed through arrests and counseling only’ because arrests have proven to be ineffective and actually waste of taxpayers’ dollars. Does this mean that perpetuators should be left alone and allowed to continue their culture of abuse? No! Human Service agencies ought to get on board in designing strategies collaboratively with other stakeholders to address the issue from the grassroots level. It is beyond counseling and arrests; it is adapting risk management techniques; making risk analyses available to the public and investing new models to deal with the issue based on professional risks assessment outcomes.
Evaluation of services
Michigan was among one of first states in the United States of America to establish a Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Board. Other states have developed similar strategies in dealing with domestic violence within their specific territorial boundaries and context of prevalence. These include accommodation in exclusive shelters, arranging divorce proceedings, legal separations or uniting of families if there are prospects are favorable. In the interim children are placed in foster care until legal preceding have been completed ( Maxwell et.al, 2008).
The pressing questions are how this contributes towards eradicating the phenomenon within society or limiting occurrences? Ultimately, what are the effects of arresting perpetuators of domestic violence? The obvious answers stare us in the eye. Separating families housing them in shelters or foster homes seems not to be the solution. It does not limit the occurrences because the has not been addressed. Arresting perpetuators is placing a band aid on a wound but no cure has been instituted.
Bowen, E.; Brown, L.; Gilchrist, E. (2002). Evaluating Probation Based Offender Programmes
for Domestic Violence Perpetrators: A Pro-Feminist Approach. The Howard Journal
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Carney, M. Buttell, F.; & Dutton, D. (2007). Women who perpetrate intimate partner violence:
A review of the literature with recommendations for treatment. Aggression and
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Maxwell, D., Garner, H., & Fagan, A. (2001). The effects of arrest
on intimate partner violence: New evidence from the spouse assault replication program
(Research in Brief). National Institute of Justice. NCJ 188199
Police Foundation (1976). Domestic Violence and the Police: Studies in Detroit and Kansas
US Center for Disease Control ( 2012). Domestic Violence. USCDC
US Statistical Bureau (2012). Domestic violence. USB