How Domestic Violence Laws Have Changed Over Last 32 Years

Published: 2019-06-19 16:18:15
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America has undergone a lot of transformations regarding issues dealing with domestic violence from the time when women were not recognized in the household to the present era, in which they are considered equal to men. Domestic violence has been regarded as a normal part of intimate relationships or marriage for a long period. In that, in the past men could mistreat abuse and batter their intimate partners or wives as it was part and parcel of intimate relationships or marriage. Women have been undergoing such kind of torture for a long period until recently that is when domestic violence has been regarded as a law violation. The definition of domestic violence as a crime has been considered at the end of the twentieth century through the systems of criminal justice justifying the intervention. This topic focuses on the domestic violence history of the criminal offense by looking at the definition of the offense, reported frequency and prevalence of woman battering behavior. The social and legal changes over times that have resulted in the alteration of the systems of criminal justice approach towards domestic violence. Relevant outlines of the responses of the prosecution and the police towards domestic violence.

One of those violations related to gender is domestic violence that had a short history but a long past. And it was regarded as an experience to be tolerated or expected by women who have established relationships or entered to marriage (Schneider et al. 2012). Therefore, domestic violence is any threatening incident of abuse, violence, behavior that is emotional, financial, sexual, physical or psychological between adults who are family members or intimate partners regardless of sexuality or gender. Across the society, domestic abuse occurs regardless of geography, wealth, sexuality, race, gender and age. A domestic abuse is not a one-off incident even if it takes any form it should be regarded as a pattern of controlling behavior or abusive through which the abuser searches power over the victim.

The first defense line for the general victims and, in particular, the domestic violence victims are the police. The domestic violence victimization cases are frequently perpetrated behind closed doors with no witnesses. Even the family members who witnessed the violence while in the household become apprehensive to testify because they shy from taking sides between the conflicting loyalties. The police are the first contact the offender and the victim have in criminal justice systems. The domestic violence victims found this initial contact to be so important particularly with matters concerning violence. Victims are negatively affected if the response of the police is considered inadequate, due to that their self-esteem goes down and stop following criminal justice systems even In the future.

The U.S. in the past had three major police responses such as arrest, mediation, and non-intervention to address calls for domestic violence. Later in the 1960s the domestic violence calls became a nonintervention by the police response because traditionally the society regarded domestic violence as a private matter. In such terms, there was no justifiable reason for outsiders to intervene in matters of the family. Even other justice officials and the police believed that within the home that is where domestic violence was handled best. Due to that the process of arrest was rarely performed in domestic violence that is regarded as a misdemeanor because to these incidents police attached low priorities to them. According to the culture of the police, domestic situations intervention was not taken as a police work because the spousal abuse was seen as unrewarding and unglamorous. Further, the police delayed purposely to respond or ignored intentionally such calls. Therefore in the 1970s response to such calls for domestic violence was higher as compared to the 1980s.

The pattern of domestic violence under-enforcement calls was discerned because it was not featured out clearly whether violence was relatively under-enforced to other crimes, and whether it had any relationship with the legal requirements which acted as a hindrance to many state officers not to make a warrantless arrest (Schneider et al. 2012). However, some state laws demand that the offenses that are misdemeanor be committed in an officers presence. The mediation approach to domestic violence later on caused crisis intervention that includes mediation, reconciliation, and separation of the parties and referral to agencies of social service. Many police established the intervention units of family crisis because of the mediation training they received across the country. In other jurisdictions, suits began to be filed by women groups on behalf of the women who were being abused and the police have failed to arrest the abuser as a way of protecting them. They achieved success through receiving court judgments or high settlement against the negligent police who did not protect women from their abusive partners or husbands.

Events on Domestic Violence

Women started campaigns to end gender based violence over 30 years ago using diverse strategies. Their efforts have eventually yielded fruits as the current woman has the same freedoms and rights their counterparts, who could enjoy some added constitutional rights. In the United States, there are currently over 1800 anti-domestic violence groups, with the focus on ensuring that women have been treated with equality and respect in the society. There is also a continuous increase in public awareness of the need for equality in the society to ensure that women have been given a chance to exploit their potential instead of being subjected to domestic violence (Foshee et al. 2012). Additionally, authorities have allocated significant resources to the anti-domestic violence groups as a strategy for ensuring that there is equality in the society. Since the early 1980s, several events have taken place in the United States in the bid to ensure that domestic violence has been mitigated.

One of the events is that of the attack of Tracey Thurman. In 1983, she became a victim of domestic violence, and she was nearly killed. Subsequently, the local police officers were judged for ignoring the dangerous behaviors of her husband that could even trigger him to be involved in such a dangerous domestic violence. They were blamed for casually dismissing the orders to restrain him away from the wife. The husband, Mr. Thurman could have been put behind bars because of his continuous misconduct in the society in the bid to prevent such an occurrence. Thurman became the first ever woman to sue the administration of an urban center and the police department for their negligence, leading to the violation of her rights and freedoms. As a result, she was compensated with a ransom of $2.3 million. Even if the extent of the injuries that she sustained cannot be equated to monetary terms, the incident made the police exercise their duties with diligence. Additionally, the lawsuit brought hope to the oppressed woman in the society by necessitating national reforms to end domestic violence, including that of the Family Violence and Response Act, the Thurman law (Foshee et al. 2012). These laws made domestic violence offense that is automatically arrestable, irrespective of whether the victim is willing to press charges or not. Additionally, as a way of trying to deter other members of the society from such unlawful acts, her husband was sentenced to 15-year jail term for the criminal charges against him.

The Burning Bed

After 13 years of domestic violence, the burning bed became a turning point for domestic violence in the United States. Abused and battered women in the households had a lot of difficulties that they had to undergo as a routine. This is a true story that revolves around domestic violence and revenge. Francine Hughes had set fire on the bed in which her husband, James Berlin in 1977. Afterward, Hughes was killed and the whole building destroyed by the inferno that resulted from the incident. On that night, she had instructed her children to prepare and wait for her at the car park. She then poured gasoline around the bed that Hughes was sleeping, and after the house had got on fire, she drove out directly to the nearby local police station with the intention of confessing. During a case against her, the jury found Hughes not guilty, basing their judgment on temporal insanity.

Her act was a shock to a society that believed that it men who subject their wives to all forms of torture, making the authorities to be alert and focus on sensitization campaigns meant to ensure that the family members lives in harmony instead of being chaotic and eventually resorting to tough decisions. The trial was sensational in the history of Ingham County. It was revealed that she had undergone a lot of troubles at the hands of her husband as she was physically and mentally abused for more than 12 years. This case necessitated the need for the authorities to enact strict domestic violence laws for the protection of women from any form of oppression. The movie that was later produced also assisted in changing the perception of domestic violence in the society. The images of personalities such as Charlie Angel being beaten brought the understanding of domestic violence closer to the members of the community, enabling them to understand that it is important to value everybody, irrespective of age, gender or occupation. Even if this incident happened some time back, this movie reminds us the tragic incident and increases the level of awareness of domestic violence.

Incarcerated Mothers Program by Edwin Gould

Children undergo through a lot of problems mostly in situations where they are not taken care of by their parents. Any form of isolation will make them uncomfortable, just like the case of Edwin Gould. His childhood challenges had made him consider fighting for the rights of the incarcerated mothers to enable them to be close to their families while serving their jail term. The program was founded in 1985 with the primary target of ensuring that the unique needs of mothers have been addressed by the authorities to allow them to continue their parenting even if they are in prison. Even if this program is not directly related to domestic violence, it is a significant event that made the voice of women to be heard and even triggered the necessity for the authorities to recognize their roles in the society.

The Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2013

In 2013, the Obama administration passed the Violence against Women Reauthorization Act into law. The VAWA recognizes tribes and other small groups by granting them the right to preside over some special cases of domestic violence using the special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction" (SDVCJ). This law enabled the citizens of Indian origin and the non-Indians to be prosecuted according to the laid down principles in case they commit dating or domestic violence. However, the law took effect in March 2015 and allowed some tribes to start benefiting from the SDVCJ. Some of the tribes that is on the blink of benefiting from the program are the Pascua Yaqui, the Umatilla Tribes, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Sioux and the Assiniboine tribes (Department of Justice, 2015). This recent law shows that America in the forefront of the efforts of trying to ensure that not only the domestically abused women in the society. They should be protected and liberated from such torture but also minority groups have been recognized so that any form of social injustice that they may be practicing is easily identified and corrective action taken.

Programs for Battered Women

Several movements began in the bid of trying to st...

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