Domestic violence is an insidious problem that affects communities large and small within the entire nation. It is a problem that affects young and old, affluent and underprivileged alike. There are many ways to view domestic violence. Though domestic violence may be defined in many ways, for purposes of this evaluation will be defined as violence that occurs between two individuals living together (Davis, 1998). Typically these individuals will be partners but this is not always the case. Domestic violence may include any type of violence whether verbal or physical, including hitting, verbal abuse, neglect, or any other type of violent act that leads to harm or injury in the battered victim.
Though several legislative measures have been enacted to curb domestic violence, there is still little uniformity of practice among community policing agencies and other support services. At present legislators and community members are considering working together to determine whether a combination of punitive and non-punitive punishment might best reduce the number of domestic violence cases reported each year. These ideas and more are discussed below.
Analysis of Violence
There have been several studies conducted of domestic violence, some that have examined the frequency with which domestic violence occurs and others that have examined reform for domestic violence predators. According the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2000) there has been some decline in recent years in the number of people victimized by domestic violence, particularly women. Yet despite this fact domestic violence is still a crime that continues at an "alarming rate" with statistics suggesting that at least 1 million victims suffer each year from domestic violence committed by their spouse or partner (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000) and more than one in three women experiences some form of domestic violence during their lifetime (Baker, Carlin, Price & Salazar, 2003).
The study conducted by the Bureau of Justice does not indicate whether or not this perceived decline is due to an actual reduction in the number of individuals affected by the crime or is more the result of less people reporting domestic violence when it occurs. Typically studies that focus on domestic violence are not well rounded and incorporative of several different factors; rather they tend to focus on one aspect of violence vs. another. Reform has been proposed in this respect so that domestic violence cases of the future are examined in more detail.
Studies do show that women are more likely than men to be victims of domestic violence, and that domestic violence more often occurs among intimate partners including husbands and wives, and boyfriends and girlfriends rather than strangers (Baker et. al, 2003). In addition statistics show that more than 72% of domestic violence victims that are killed as a result of violence are women (Baker, et. al, 2000). The statistics are telling, suggesting that solutions must be found in order to not only curb violence but save lives. Because of these statistics many of the programs geared toward advocacy for victims of domestic violence are geared toward women and encouraging awareness among female populations of this serious offense. There are many advocacy and shelter programs that focus on women's rights and the needs of battered women exclusively.
Domestic violence used to be something that was viewed as a more intimate or private matter, but in modern times it is generally considered a public affair, with many laws being implemented and enacted in order to combat. Because domestic violence is becoming more commonplace and public, law enforcement officials are considering the opinions of victims and community members with regard to domestic violence as well. Interestingly the community approach focuses more on non-punitive punishment such as counseling and rehabilitation for offenders, whereas the traditional approach among law enforcement agencies has been jail time and arrest of offenders (Baker, et. al, 2003).
The methods used to address domestic violence are varied. The trend in legal development has been toward punitive sanctions as mentioned above, including interventions as arrest and prosecution of perpetrators rather than counseling and other support or treatment measures (Baker, et. al, 2003; Robinson, 1999). This trend in punitive punishment has been in part the result of an organized domestic violence movement aimed at preventing further crimes against the innocent (Baker, et. al, 2003). One thing is certain however, there is not consensus…