Domestic Abuse: Information and Evidence-Based Practice
Domestic abuse is an issue that has plagued society since nearly the beginning of mankind. Even ancient societies and civilizations have dealt with and depicted those who engage in this behavior. There are few things that work for every person who gets involved in domestic abuse, even though there are many different treatment options. Some people respond to drug treatment when they are medicated for an underlying issue that might be triggering their anger. Others respond to medical interventions such as therapy or anger management courses. Still other individuals only respond to law enforcement and punishment - and even then there is no guarantee that person will not reoffend. Discussed here is domestic abuse from the standpoint of evidence-based practice. What researchers and therapists have said (and are still saying) about people who are domestic abusers is important to analyze, so that new and better treatments can be offered to these individuals and their families. Understanding the reasons behind the violence and the history of what has been done to help offenders in the past can provide insight toward what should be done in the future so that the incidents of domestic abuse that are commonly seen can be reduced or avoided.
Domestic Abuse: Information and Evidence-Based Practice
Introduction and Background
Domestic abuse has always been a part of society. In the past generations, it was more accepted than it is in current times, because people used to see it as a means of correcting a wife or a child, especially if a man believed that his wife was not showing him the level of respect to which he was entitled (Hardesty, 2002). Times have changed, though, and domestic abuse is a crime now. Law enforcement officers will not allow it to go on and it will not be tolerated by the justice system. Additionally, there are many ways of treating those who are domestic abusers, including therapy and medication. Here, evidence-based practice will be explored through providing information about domestic abuse, how it is handled through the criminal justice system, and what case study information says about those who abuse and those who have been abused in the past. One of the most significant things that information about domestic abuse is bringing to light is that it is not just a problem for women. Men can also be victims of domestic abuse.
All throughout the country - and even in other areas of the world - domestic abuse is a problem that law enforcement officers see all the time. All age brackets and income levels can experience problems with domestic abuse (Hardesty, 2002). Abuse of that kind does not discriminate based on age, gender, income, race, or social status, and people who work in law enforcement are trying aggressively to combat the problem (Hardesty, 2002). Overall, the majority of the public wants to see law enforcement officers put a stop to domestic abuse, and law enforcement officers also want to see that take place. The victims, of course, certainly want to see the abuse stop, so that they do not have to live their lives in fear, hide bruises, and worry about what else might happen to them if they do not obey their abuser or if they do something that the abuser perceives as wrong. In some domestic abuse cases, alcohol or other drugs are the catalyst for abuse and the victim does not even have to do anything for the abuser to go on the offensive.
One of the most unfortunate things about domestic abuse is that some of the very people who are sworn to protect others and who have vowed to put an end to abuse end up as perpetrators of domestic abuse. Police officers have high rates of domestic abuse, and that is devastating to their families and to their communities as well. They are expected to protect the citizens of that community, and it can be difficult for those citizens to learn that the people they have trusted to care for them and keep them safe are abusing their families when they are off duty (Kruger & Valltos, 2002). When officers are also domestic abusers, that reflects badly on the police department. The respect and integrity they have worked to develop in the community is undermined, and the leaders in law enforcement are not able to just look the other way. Because they have sworn to uphold the law, they must protect the abuser's victim, even if the abuser is one of their own (Kruger & Valltos, 2002). The protection of the victim is more important than the reputation of the police department or the officer who committed the crime of abuse.
There are several factors that have to be considered when one is examining domestic abuse and how it is addressed and treated by both law enforcement and therapists. Addressed in this paper will be evidence-based information on domestic abuse in the context of structural and institutional ideals. In other words, concepts such as how the courts and the laws handle the issue of domestic abuse, what battered woman syndrome really is, and why abusive acts are committed are all important. Also significant is why so many of these victims choose to stay with the very people who abuse them. The individualistic framework will be used, where the person who abuses someone else focuses on himself or herself and the intrapersonal world in which he or she exists. To explain a few of the issues that surround the problem of domestic abuse, the 'two-sex model' will also be discussed here. Only by looking at domestic abuse from so many angles can the problem be more easily understood and suggestions for further help and support for victims be provided.
Law enforcement leaders are some of the best-positioned people when it comes to helping stop domestic abuse, both among their officers and out in the rest of the community. To do so, however, the leadership they demonstrate must be good and strong. In order for these law enforcement leaders to be successful in stemming the tide of domestic violence, they have to determine who falls under the definition of victim and the specifics as to what makes up the components of an act of domestic abuse (Kruger & Valltos, 2002). In the definition of domestic abuse, the nature of the relationship between the offender and the victim is important. In order to be classified as "domestic" abuse, the abuser must inflict his or her abuse on a spouse, parent, child, or anyone in a similar relationship (Dalton, 1999). The abuse is generally physical, but it does not need to be physical in nature to be considered abuse. It can also be financial, emotional, or sexual (Kruger & Valltos, 2002). Most often, domestic abuse is seen between spouses or between men and women who have some type of sexual relationship. However, it is only part of a larger problem of abuse.
The Occurrence of Domestic Abuse
In order to determine whether an act falls into the category of domestic abuse, there are specific characteristics it needs to meet. The abuse must occur in a relationship that would be considered to be intimate. There is a perceived level of "safety" that is seen in that kind of relationship that does not belong to relationships with others in the community (Buel, 1999). Often, domestic abuse occurs behind closed doors, and no one but the abuser and the victim see or hear what is taking place. The abuser will certainly not report the crime, so it is left up to the victim to speak up and say that he or she is being abused and mistreated by someone close to him or her. Most often, though, the victim of the domestic abuse does nothing, and so the abuse just continues (Kruger & Valltos, 2002). Domestic abuse is a "learned behavior," in that it is not genetic and is not actually caused by alcohol, stress, or any of the other standard excuses that are used. While these issues can increase the chances for domestic abuse, they are mitigating factors and not the true cause (Buel, 1999).
Domestic abuse has to be learned from someone or somewhere else, and the victim must accept it and allow it to continue to happen in order for it to become an ongoing pattern. Victims who stand up for themselves quickly and efficiently generally do not have problems with repeated domestic abuse, because they rapidly move away from the situation and anyone who is causing it. They are rarities, because most victims stay with their abusers and allow the abuse to continue. Sometimes, the abuse escalates to the point that the victim is killed, but this is not terribly common. When victims do not put a stop to domestic abuse, it becomes a way of life and "just how things are" in that family. The behavior recurs, and it often involves more than one type of abuse (Kruger…