The Problem Of Domestic Violence And Abuse Criminology Essay

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/The problem of domestic violence and abuse has reached epidemic proportions according to recent studies. The US Surgeon General has indicated that over two million wives and partners are beaten every year. Researchers often study batterers, victims and the couple. Exposure to violence in the batterer's family or origin, both as a witness to parental marital aggression and as a victim of corporal punishment is often associated with relationship aggression (Geffner and Roseribaum, 1990).

For many years, battering has been considered a domestic problem and therefore not the concern of the criminal justice system. Attempts to alleviate repeat domestic violence have focused on diversion programs. These programs require batterers to enter and remain in treatment, wither prior to sentencing or as part of the sentence. A diversion program must have the power to instill compliance and attendance. Geffner and Roseribaum (1990), looked at various treatment programs that are currently available. These approaches include psychoeducational group treatment, individual psychotherapy, couple and family therapy. The choice of which modality to use is often a function of the philosophy of the therapist. Sometimes combination treatment programs are used for practical reasons.

In a study done by Price and Rosenbaum (2009), the philosophies, structures, leadership, curricula and support systems were looked at in regards to batterer intervention programs (BIP's). Participants in this study were representatives from BIP's. 276 programs from 45 different states completed the survey that was given. The survey consisted of 57 questions assessing the program philosophy, structure, clientele, curriculum, policies, operating equipment and evaluation. The limitations to this study included a low response rate. This prohibited the researchers from claiming a representative sample. They feel that a larger more representative sample would be warranted for further study.

Nevertheless, the study did find that open ended, psychoeducational, gender-specific groups are the most popular intervention formats. The typical group is fun by a male-female co- leader and is approximately 40 hours in length. Mental health professionals are well represented among program staff, but reformed batterers are not. Alcohol and substance abuse along with anger management modules are frequently used. Most programs will treat perpetrators of either sex, but the vast majority of participants are male. Most programs are willing to treat homosexual batterers but rarely do so. A few programs offer couple counseling, but event hose that do treat very few batters in a couple counseling format (Price and Rosenbaum, 2009).

Within the criminal justice system there has been a reliance of evidence based practice primarily consisting of cumulative reports of reassults or rearrests, especially in evaluating effectiveness of domestic violence interventions. In 2010, Jones, Heckert, Gondolf, Qiang and Ip did a study that looked at a sample of domestic violence offenders arrested and referred to DV offender programs in four cities to examine complex multi outcome patters of violent and abusive behavior and trajectories between patterns over time. Batterers and their partners were surveyed at program intake and followed for 15 months. Trajectory analysis indicated that the most abusive state is relatively stable and indicative of a high probability of future physical assault. These results suggested that evaluation based on complex outcomes may help to improve criminal justice intervention effectiveness, risk assessment and risk management.

There were several important limitation so this analysis. One was the in restricting the sample to offenders who partners were continuously surveyed throughout the 15 month follow up could lead to bias in what might otherwise be a selective set of respondents. Another limitation was the generalization of patterns in both response and trajectory from a single sample. The results were though consistent with previous research using the same sample and the demographics of the batterers were similar to other studies of court referred batterer programs (Jones, Heckert, Gondolf, Qiang and Ip. 2010).

Battering is a process whereby women experience vulnerability, loss of power and control and entrapment as a consequence of their partner's exercise of power through the patterned use of physical, sexual, psychological and moral force. In a study done by Smith, Hall, Murray and Coker (2010), the researchers developed a conceptual framework for understanding the coping strategies used by women who are battered. The felt that this conceptual framework was needed to reflect the unique complexity of the nature of the chronic and acute stressors that are associated with battering.

This study was limited to first time shelter residents because it was part of a broader study examining the processes through which women seek the services of shelters for battered women. Participants were recruited by shelter staff and interviewed at the shelter when it was convenient for them. One limitation of this study was that most participants were African American. The study was also limited by its collection of data in one geographic region and sample size (Smith, Hall, Murray and Coker, 2010),

Nineteen unique coping strategies were identified from this study. Through data analysis procedures these strategies were collapsed into four categories, which were combined to create a two axis conceptual framework known as the coping window. The focus axis relates to where women use emotion focused or problem focused coping strategies. Problem focused strategies are thought to be more adaptive than emotion based strategies. The second axis or the resource axis reflects the extent to which women cope by drawing upon resources, either within themselves or from their social networks. The emphasis on a resource focused approach to coping among women who have been battered represents a unique contribution of The Coping Window model to the existing body of literature (Smith, Hall, Murray and Coker, 2010),

In a book by Geffner and Rosenbaum entitled Domestic Violence Offenders: Current Interventions, Research, and Implications for Policies and Standards, the authors have created a research driven text on the myriad of issues related to domestic violence intervention. This book was conceived as a guideline for the development of sane, safe and reasonable standards in batter intervention. This book identifies many issues that have arisen as to the appropriateness of batterer intervention programs, including debate regarding treatment philosophy and content, qualification standards for service providers and program duration. Of primary concern is the effectiveness of domestic violence intervention. There is question as to the validity of existing assumptions within barrier intervention programs. The evaluations of many existing programs suggest that adhering to a rigid structure, format, content and time frame is inappropriate and perhaps harmful given the diverse nature and circumstances in which domestic violence occurs (Geffner and Rosenbaum, 2001).

Over the last several decades, states have been enacting domestic violence legislation, which often empowers judges to mandate batterers into intervention programs. In order to assure that these programs meet reasonable standards and that there is homogeneity among programs, collateral laws mandating the development of batterer treatment standards has also become common. In a review of standards that are in place done by Rosenbaum and Geffner (2001), they came to the conclusion that it is not a set of model standards that needs to be developed but a set of guidelines for the process of developing standards. They believe that these guidelines should encompass the following considerations. Specification of the content of therapy is premature and without empirical foundation. Evidence for any specific treatment length is lacking. Standards must not preclude the conduct of research. Batterer treatment includes a diverse set of interventions and service providers. In most disciplines, the standards for providers specify the education and training requirements for practice rather than the specifics of the practice itself. Batterers' intervention is a work in progress. Standards should take in some requirement for outcome evaluation. The authors thought that if batterer treatment standards are practical, reasonable, empirically formed and flexible then they stand a better chance of protecting victims from relationship aggression (Rosenbaum and Geffner, 2001).

The relationship between therapist and client is fiduciary. The therapist by virtue of entering the therapeutic relationship undertakes a duty to act primarily for the benefit of the client in matters connected to the therapy. The introduction of legal proceedings into a therapeutic relationship can disrupt the therapeutic process and complicate the therapist's perceptions regarding the client's best interests. In an article by Rosenbaum, Warnken and Grudzinskas (2003), the authors explore the nature of the therapeutic relationship as it relates to batterers' treatment programs. They considered to impact of obligations created by forces outside the relationship, such as those imposed by legal proceedings.

The enactment of domestic violence legislation in many states has led to a dramatic increase in the number of people who are court ordered to undergo some form of intervention. When people are court-ordered into treatment, the therapist is required to balance the often competing interests of the batterer and the legal system. Dealing with court mandated clients is sufficiently rate and generally restricted to the battering context. Therapists may not have received a lot of training regarding the legal and ethical issues that arise when working with this population. Most states that allow for court ordering of batterer treatment also have standards in place for the certification of programs. These standards, which vary from state to state, may specify program length and content, format, minimum credentials or training for providers, reporting requirements and the circumstances under which confidentiality is limited (Rosenbaum, Warnken and Grudzinskas, 2003).

The past several years have witnessed extensive research on the dynamics of domestic violence duet o continuing concern over the persistence and widespread nation of this societal problem. In a study done by Camacho and Alarid (2008), the researchers looked at 384 municipal cases from a specialized domestic violence court in order to look at the role of the victim advocate and variables that had an impact on victim participation with prosecution and case disposition. This analysis established that victim cooperation after arrest coupled with services provided by shelter court adovates were a strong predictor of victim cooperation at disposition and case outcome.

Variables such as the presence of children and the relationship status of the victim to the defendant did not produce a statistically significant relationship nor were they strong predictors of victim cooperation with prosecution and case outcome. Victims who knew their perpetrators through family or marital relationships were less likely to cooperate with prosecution and also more likely to have their cases dismissed than were victims who has a social relationship with their perpetrator. Experience as a victim advocate showed that victims who are related or married to the perpetrator had had more at stake in the relationship and were more likely to request counseling for the defendant. These cases resulted in a continuance for 6 months and ultimately a dismissal, under the condition that the defendant completes a counseling program. Some of the most serious obstacles to victim cooperation with domestic violence prosecution are strong emotional, financial, and familial ties between the victim and the offender (Camacho and Alarid, 2008).

Limitations of this study included limited legal factors, such as strength of the evidence, were accounted for to better explain case outcome and sentence type. These cases were heard by a single judge in a single jurisdiction and were not necessarily representative of what other judges would do in other jurisdictions around the country. It was also seen that the choices that were made by the victims that had made their case involvement prior to the involvement of the victim advocate had more of an impact that did the referrals and services provided by the victim advocate (Camacho and Alarid, 2008).

Intimate partner violence has gained increasing attention over the past several years. Recent studies have suggested that 5.8 million victimizations of women occur at the hands of intimate partners each year in the United States. In a study done by Stover, Poole and Marans (2009), clinical and police record data was collected for 512 cases and repeat calls to the police were tracked for 12 months. Analysis revealed that women who engaged with the domestic violence home visit intervention were more likely to contact the police for subsequent events than those who received no or minimal domestic violence home visit intervention contact.

The domestic violence intervention education project involved follow up home visits made by police officers and social workers within New York City public housing where domestic disputes were reported by the police. Visits were intended to provide victims with information on services and legal interventions available to them and lasted between 10 and 30 minutes. Results indicated that victims who received a follow-up visit as part of the domestic violence intervention education program were more likely to call the police and to call more quickly to report abuse in the six months that followed the intervention than the comparison group (Stover, Poole and Marans, 2009).

The limitations of this study included the fact that examining police and service records alone makes it impossible to determine the actual rates of repeat violence experienced by victims. Lack of information directly from victims on the amount of violence they experienced over 12 months is a significant limitation. Although analyses were conducted to determine preexisting group differences in demographic variables and to statistically control for these differences in subsequent regression models, it was not possible to control for all potential confounding variables (Stover, Poole and Marans, 2009).

Although domestic violence has in the past been considered primarily a crime perpetrated by men, increasing numbers of women are being arrested and mandated into batterer intervention programs. In a study done by Kernsmith and Kernsmith (2009), they looked at existing state policies in order to explore the degree to which they address the unique needs of women in batterer prevention programs. It was found that nearly all existing standards were designed primarily to address the needs of heterosexual male clients.

Recognizing appropriate services for female batterers is important in part because of changing police policies and procedure, including mandatory and dual arrests. Prior to the implementation of mandatory prosecution, the legal system did little to enforce laws prohibiting assaultive behavior against an intimate partner. Mandatory arrest policies were developed to encourage, if not require officers to make an arrest if there is a reasonable cause to believe that domestic violence has occurred. These changes have led to dramatically increasing arrest rates for women in the past decade (Kernsmith and Kernsmith, 2009).

Present finding suggest that these are few standards available to meet the growing need for services for female batterers. Although research has suggested that the needs of women in batterer intervention services differ from those of men, many standards continue to require similar treatment or provide no alternative. Although it is likely that many programs have developed appropriate and effective interventions without specific practice guidelines, programs have little accountability, or opportunity to share practice knowledge (Kernsmith and Kernsmith, 2009).

Intimate partner violence affects women across cultural, socioeconomic and religious groups. Research has shown no significant difference in prevalence rates of intimate partner violence in religious communities compared to the general population. The demands to stay in abusive relationships and to conform to specific religious norms and beliefs may be greater than in other population groups. Women in faith communities tend to turn to their clergy, pastors, or religious leaders for help. In an article by Popescu and Drumm (2009), the authors took a look at recent studies that explore the dynamics of intimate partner violence in faith communities and the clergy's response to it. The findings indicate that there is a need for an understanding of the religious context and the ways in which the needs of women survivors, as well as the responses that they get from pastors and congregations, are greatly influenced by religious beliefs. One unique quality of social work is that it contributes to creating systems that address local and global issues through networks of care.

Many religious men, women, teens and children look at their faith community for guidance and practical assistance after domestic violence. In an article by Nason-Clark (2009), she looked at the interface between religion and abuse from a variety of perspectives. She explored several unique features of the journey towards justice, safety, healing and wholeness for a religious victim, or perpetrator, of domestic violence. Whether someone is helped first by their congregation or a community based agency, those who respond to need to understand both the issue of domestic violence and the nature of religious faith. Building relationships between congregations and their communities is central to responding compassionately and with best practices to domestic violence.

Justice, accountability, and change are all imperative features of intervention services offered to men who abuse their wives or intimate partners. While some come voluntarily, most men who attend batterer intervention classes do so because they have little or no choice. They are often mandated by the courts as a result of a conviction for domestic violence, or referred by wives, therapists or clergy as a final gasp before the relationship is considered dead. Religious women are very hopeful that intervention programs can change violent men. Since many abused religious women do not wish to terminate their relationship with the abuser they hold great faith that if only their partner were to attend such a program, the violence would end and peace would be restored to the marriage (Nason-Clark, 2009).

There is ample evidence that religious faith and domestic violence are co-mingles. The idea of why a religious women, men, teens, or children look to their faith community for help in the aftermath of domestic violence is replete with spiritual overtones. Looking at the interface between religion and domestic violence from different vantage points reveals several unique features of the journey towards justice, safety, healing and wholeness for a religious victim or perpetrator of abuse. Whether an abused religious woman, or a religious man who acts abusively, is offered help first by their church, or through a community based agency, it is critical that those who respond understand both the issue of domestic violence and the nature of religious faith (Nason-Clark, 2009).

Due to the fact that domestic violence continues to be such a serious problem, the battered women's movement has been tireless in campaigning for greater awareness of the issue, tougher penalties against offenders, and public vigilance against potential batterers. According to Crowley (2009), there has been a countermovement composed of activists in the father's rights movement. In order to understand and map out the motivations of participant's in father's rights groups Crowley conducted one hour, telephone interviews with members all across the United States. The interviews were designed to provide information about how these members viewed their involvement in these groups, and also to situate their organizational activities in the broader context of their lives.

The results of this study showed that effective activists operating in the political arena must always scan the landscape for new, strategic opportunities to promote their agendas. In order to extract valuable resources from the state, activists must consistently be on the lookout for new venues in which to advocate on behalf of their claims. They must be vigilant in grooming new leaders to serve in the future if the battle that they are fighting is expected to last. The author found that the father's right's groups are arguing that a major injustice runs rampant in America's family court system. The central component of their grievance is that the batter women's movement has wrongly painted all men as potential abuser, instead of focusing solely on imposing stronger penalties on known abusers. Father's rights groups feel that until this injustice is properly addressed, fathers will make little progress in achieving their goals (Crowley, 2009).

In looking at the problem of domestic violence and the treatment options that are available it is important to consult social theories in order to better understand the entire problem. George Herbert Mead's theory of Social Behaviorism focuses on thought, action and interaction. There is an emphasis of the importance of starting with the group and working down to the individual level. Individual thought, action, and interaction are explained in terms of the group and not the group by individual thought and action. This theory does not see people as engaging in automatic, unthinking responses. It recognizes four different stages in a person's action. The first is the impulse. This is where the actor reacts to some external stimulus and feels the need to do something about it. The second stage is that of perception. This is where the actor searchers for and reacts to stimuli that relate to the impulse and to the ways of dealing with it. The third stage involves manipulating an object once it has been perceived. The fourth stage involves taking action that satisfies the original impulse, which is called consummation (Ritzer, 2010).

The focus of symbolic interactionism is on everyday life. Its distinctive focus is on interaction and the symbols that are deeply implicated in it. The fundamental assumptions and principals of this theory include the fact that people act towards things and they do this on the basis of the meanings that those things have for them. Second, these meanings stem from a person's interactions with other people. Third, people do not simply internalize the meanings that they learn through social interaction, but they are also able to modify them though an interpretive process. Fourth, people are unique in their ability to use and rely on symbols. Fifth, people become human through social interaction, especially in the early years with family members and then in school. Sixth, people are conscious, capable of reflecting on themselves and what they do and therefore capable of shaping their actions and interactions. Seventh, people have purposes when they act in, as well as towards different situations. Eighth, people can see society as consisting of people engaging in social interaction (Ritzer, 2010).

Another theory of everyday behavior is exchange theory. The heart of this theory lies in a set of fundamental propositions that are powerfully influenced by behaviorism. The first proposition is that of the success proposition. This states that the more often a person is rewarded for a particular action, the more likely they are to perform this action. The second proposition is that of the stimulus proposition. This asserts that if in the past a person's action has been rewarded as a result of responding to a particular stimulus, then the person ism more likely to perform the same action. The third proposition is that of the value proposition. This states that the more valuable people find the results of their action, the more likely they are to perform that action. A fourth proposition is that of the deprivation satiation proposition. This contends that the more often in the recent past that a person has received a particular reward, the less valuable will future rewards of this type be. A fifth proposition is the aggression approval proposition. This states that when people do not receive the expected rewards for a particular behavior then they are more likely to become angry and act aggressively. The sixth proposition is that of the rationality proposition. This is where people are seen as choosing from the available alternatives, the action for which, given the person's perception at the time, there are greater rewards (Ritzer, 2010).

Feminist institutional theory posits that gender differences result form the different roles that women and men play within various settings. A major source of difference is the sexual division of labor in the family to which all people socialized. This sexual division of labor links women to the functions as wife, mother, and household worker. There are four themes that characterize feminist theories of gender inequality. Men and women are situated in society not only differently but also unequally. Women get less of the material resources, social status, power and opportunities for self actualization than men do. This inequality results from the organization of society and not from any significant biological difference between men and women. All human beings are characterized by a deep need for freedom to seek self actualization and by a fundamental flexibility that leads them to adapt to the constraints or opportunities of the situations in which they find themselves (Ritzer, 2010).

The theory that can most relate to the phenemon of domestic violence is that of the feminist theory. It is this theory that suggests that gender differences result form the different roles that women and men play within society. A major source of these differences is seen as the sexual division of labor in the family. This sexual division of labor links women to the functions as wife, mother, and household worker. And it is these differences that so often lead men to believe the idea that they are superior to women in all ways. It is not a biological difference that makes men believe this put it is a sociological way of thinking that has been ingrained in people from birth.

This idea can be explained by looking at the theory of symbolic interactionism. The fundamental assumptions and principals of this theory include the fact that people act towards things and they do this on the basis of the meanings that those things have for them. A big assumption of this theory is that people become human through social interaction, especially in the early years with family members and then in school. It people are taught their whole lives that men are superior to women and that both men and women have their places and roles within society it is not surprising to see domestic violence occur within families at a growing rate.

It has not been until recently that domestic violence has become a public issue and one which is being dealt with in the legal system. It used to be a very private issue and was often dealt with in the family. Exchange theory can be used to explain why it is that these approaches only lead to more abuse instead of actually fixing anything. The heart of this theory lies in a set of fundamental propositions that are strongly influenced by behaviorism. The first proposition states that the more often a person is rewarded for a particular action, the more likely they are to perform this action. In an abusive relationship the more that the abusers abuses and gets away with it, they more likely they are to continue doing it. With no consequences to be served for their behavior the more rewards that they feel and the more they are to continue repeating the behavior.

The last theory of George Herbert Mead's theory of Social Behaviorism focuses on thought, action and interaction. This theory looks at abusers as a group and not on an individual basis. The father's rights groups that were discussed earlier made the statement that battered women's movement often classify all men as potential abusers. Using this blanket group theory does not get to the root of the problem of why men abuse and what treatment modalities should be used to prevent re abuse. You cannot treat a group as a whole because all causes and treatments do not apply to all. People who commit domestic abuse need to be treated as individuals so that the root cause of whatever their particular problem can be identified and then treated in the best way possible.

Because of the fact that mandated treatment programs have become so popular after the domestic violence problem became a public concern, they way in which treatment programs are being administered must be looked at closely. More and more women are being arrested for domestic violence and yet offender treatment programs have been designed for males. There needs to be strict guidelines developed based upon empirical evidence and research so that uniform programs can be put into place that help everyone. Domestic violence is a growing problem that needs to be addressed in our society. Potential offenders need to be identified so that prevention programs can be used in order to try and alleviate the amount of cases that reach the legal system. But for those that do, there needs to be good treatment programs in place that have been devised based on evidence based best practices so that they can be effective as possible in preventing re abuse.