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First, family violence is rarely the only problem in a home. On the contrary, the vast majority of homes with family violence have at least one co-existing problem, such as drug or alcohol abuse, some type of mental problem, stress, unemployment, or poor parenting. In fact, though battered women's advocates may argue against this statement, it seems accurate to conclude that any parent, whether victim or abuser, who keeps their children in a home with violence, should be presumptively declared unfit as a parent, until they can prove such worth. After all, the research clearly establishes that children who witness inter-parent violence experience the same degree and type of emotional turmoil as children who are actually victims of child abuse. Therefore, removing the primary aggressor from the home is only the first-step in moving a family out of the cycle of violence.
In addition, removing an abusing parent from the home can have dire consequences for a family's safety and security. The majority of primary aggressors are males and, in the United States, men continue to be the primary breadwinners for their families. Mandatory arrest, prosecution, and sentencing can have dire short-term consequences for family financial situations. Moreover, due to the fact that many employers either cannot or will not hire convicted domestic violence offenders, such a conviction can lead to continued unemployment for the offender. Even if the victim leaves the offender, these financial repercussions can continue to impact the victim and the children, by reducing an offender's ability to pay child support or otherwise contribute to the household in a meaningful manner. Furthermore, although domestic violence impacts people of all social classes, the fact is that its effects disproportionately impact lower and middle-class families, because their financial security may be so based on the abuser's income that the victim truly feels unable to leave.
One thing that the class discussions do not seem to recognize is that domestic violence frequently has ancillary victims who are also witnesses. Children witness a huge percentage of domestic violence assaults, and can be an invaluable resource in helping police determine exactly what happened. However, officers have to be especially cautious when dealing with child witnesses, because children generally love both parents and do not want to be considered the source of any problems. Moreover, most children in violent homes have some experience with interventions and may have lost their faith about the potential effectiveness of such measures. Therefore, officers need to tread carefully when interviewing young witnesses, so that they can get all of the information that they need to build a case against the offender, while assessing the immediate danger to children in the home and minimizing any continuing impact that an investigation will have on the littlest victims of…[continue]
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