Domestic Violence A”No Win” Situation
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Domestic violence occurs when a family member, partner or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate or harm the other. The term “intimate partner violence” (IPV) is often used synonymously, other terms have included “wife beating”, “wife battering”, “relationship violence”, “domestic abuse”, “spousal abuse”, and “family violence” with some legal jurisdictions having specific definitions.
Domestic violence occurs in all cultures, people of all races, ethnicities, and religions can be perpetrators of domestic violence. Domestic violence is perpetrated by, and on, both men and women, and occurs in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. In USA today there is a huge awareness about this but in some countries like Pakistan, the abuse not only continues but it has normalized as to the extent as considered “a part of life”.
From the perspective of the police, who are often the first to investigate domestic violence incidents, one of the problems is that the definitions of domestic violence include acts that are not themselves crimes. The response to domestic violence is typically a combined effort between law enforcement agencies, the courts, social service agencies and corrections/probation agencies. The role of each has evolved as domestic violence has been brought more into public view. Historically, law enforcement agencies, the courts and corrections agencies had whole lot of discretion in such case and treated domestic violence as a personal matter. For example, police officers were often reluctant to intervene by making an arrest, and often chose instead to simply counsel the couple and/or ask one of the parties to leave the residence for a period of time. The courts were reluctant to impose any significant sanctions on those convicted of domestic violence, largely because it was viewed as a misdemeanor offense. This mind set of treating family violence as a personal problem of minor consequence permeated the system’s response, and potentially allowed the perpetrator to continue acting violently. Activism, initiated by victim advocacy groups and feminist groups in USA have led to a better understanding of the scope and effect of domestic violence on victims and families, and has brought about changes in the criminal justice system’s response. In order to protect the rights of the victims and the citizens of United States of America, the Constitution has now limited the powers of Judges and Police Officers. As a result of lawsuits by injured parties, policies are changing in 23 states including District of Columbia, which require an arrest without warrant of suspects in violent incidents, even if the officer did not witness the crime but has probable cause o believe that the suspect committed it.
Although I personally believe that Police officers should have full discretionary powers in the cases of domestic violence in USA as they are the first ones reporting at the scenes. They can judge better looking at the obvious and then react accordingly. But here in contrast we are seeing that police officers are now limited with such decision making powers because past experiences and some cases have shown us that police officers reporting at the scenes are also human beings after all. They can be biased sometimes, maybe in some cases due to their own personal friendships, relationships or other involvements. So its better if laws are standardized for all so this way there are no question marks as to if the decision at that moment were right or wrong. Nowadays most large police departments and police academies have programs to educate their officers about domestic violence. Because If out of 99 cases even 1 stands out where there is a question if right discretions were exercised by the reporting police officer it will be stigmatized and negatively publicized against the whole police force. Thus I feel confidently that each cases of domestic violence can rightly be categorized as “no-win” situation for all parties involved.