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Domestic Violence, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Criminalization of domestic violence has been the subject of a debate for decades. Feminist theories of criminal justice have been urging policymakers to take the issue more seriously. The below review is going to examine theories, statistical data and research on the factors influencing the criminal justice system on the debate. The claim of many authors is that family violence is indeed more prevalent than it is believed. (Dutton and Nichols, 2005, p. 681)

Feminist Theories on Domestic Violence

One of the main theories the authors would like to link into the research is Culture and Violence theory. This approach concludes that violence societies have a greater degree of domestic violence. They also claim that media has a great responsibility in the growth of violence. The ecological theory determines risks for domestic violence in the society and family history. The Evolutionary Theory states that domestic violence is the result of smaller families and lack of social control. Violence is used to obtain obedience.

Reviewing all the criminal justice theories related to domestic violence, Feminist theories seem to provide the most advanced and detailed framework for assessing the presence of violence in the family. Yllo and Bograd (1988) have determined some important strains of domestic abuse: these are: dominance of males in the society, predictable intimate violence, inferior experiences and lack of advocacy for female members of the society.

The development of the radical feminist paradigm was an important step in the research of domestic violence.  (Dutton and Nichols, 2005, p. 682)

Statistical Data

Hestler (2006) publishes a UK research which states that reflects on the general patterns of attrition. According to the Northumbria Police’s records, only 26 percent of reported domestic violence incidents resulted in arrest. Out of the suspects arrested, only 27 percent were charged for criminal offenses, while only four convictions involving custodial sentence were issued. The statistics show that a very few cases end with conviction, and this certainly does not indicate that the interest of victims was taken into consideration. While the police was trying to obtain detailed victim reports, the crime was not taken extremely seriously by the criminal justice system. This is where feminist theories of crime are arguing on the legal system’s ability to protect those who suffer from domestic violence.

Dutton and Nichols (2006) concludes that while radical feminist theories state that males are more likely to become violent in a relationship, this is not confirmed by statistical data.

Debates

            Dutton and Nichols (2006) debates the validity of radical theorists, claiming that women can become more violent than it has previously been claimed. Quoting the Archer research, he claims that male victimization is dismissed by the criminal justice system, therefore, it is not included in the research. He does not question that “patriarchal terrorism” exists in the society, but he calls for the correct assessment of male victims of domestic violence.

Findings

Hester (2005) concludes the findings of the research to provide a framework for preventing and controlling domestic violence in the society. According to the author, there are two main tasks the criminal justice system needs to complete: to stop immediate violence and provide long term protection for victims. This framework can be applied to both male and female victims equally. The involvement of social workers and family protection services is also important, according to the author. Determining some patterns would help providing preventive and prosecution measures to victims. Holtzworth – Munroe and Stuart (1994) conclude that alcohol dependance, witnessing violence as a child, emotional dependance and jealousy are among the most prevalent risk factors of domestic violence.         The research also found some personality subtypes of offenders which might be useful in the future research of domestic violence and creating a framework for assessment and criminal justice approaches.

Antisocial behavior is one of the most common personality trait that leads to domestic violence. While the number of reported cases increases every year, according to Hester (2005) this might still not fully represent the problem. Many victims do not report the abuse or give up the fight when they are made to stay in a relationship, due to the inadequate convictions. Dutton and Nichols (2006) found that the majority of incidents remain unreported by male and female victims alike.

Conclusion

From the research above, it is evident that the low conviction rate of offenders in domestic violence cases does not provide adequate protection for victims. While many researchers debate the validity of radical feminist arguments, the focus should not be on whether the victim is male or female, but the institutionalization of the crime. Domestic violence as a criminal term does not exist; it is usually classed as an “assault”, “harrassment” or “threat”. Underreporting is also a great issue, which is usually caused by fear and the mistrust of the legal system. (Dutton and Nichols, 2005) Until the crime is not named according to its nature, it cannot be treated as a specific subject of criminal justice. The most important element of domestic violence is that there is an existing intimate relationship between the victim and the suspect. Without examining the personal element of the crime it is impossible to correctly assess it. The fact that victims are tied to the assaulter emotionally, economically and by law makes the cases of domestic violence specific.

While the feminist approaches might create a framework for improving the legal system to protect victims, gender-based policies might not be relevant, given the evidence for the prevalence of abuse among females.

References

Hester, M. (2005) Making it through the Criminal Justice System: Attrition and Domestic Violence. Social Policy & Society 5:1, 79–90 Cambridge University Press

Holtzworth – Munroe, A. and Stuart, G.L. (1994).Typologies of male batterers: Three subtypes and the differences among them. Psychological Bulletin, 116(3),476–497.

Dutton, D. and Nicholls, T. (2005)  The gender paradigm in domestic violence research and  theory: Part 1—The conflict of theory and data. Aggression and Violent Behavior.  10 680–714

Yllo K., & Bograd M. (Eds.). (1988). Feminist perspectives on wife abuse. Beverly Hills7 Sage

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