Domestic violence has identified itself as an incurable disease in society. It primarily affects women in households, with a number of more than 38 million women in the United States alone. It is, then, estimated that 10 percent of American women will be raped by intimate partners in their lifetime. With the rising of the virtual world, it is undoubtedly easier for batterers to dominate, intimidate, and control people in their lives through manipulation, cyber-stalking, and emotional blackmail.
Domestic violence is the abuse by a person to another in a domestic setting, such as in a marriage or cohabitation. It can take place in both heterosexual or same-sex relationships, or between former spouses or partners. It can also involve violence against children, parents or the elderly. Though most victims are women, men can also be subject to domestic violence in large numbers. It also affects significant percentages in LGBT couples, as well as economically disadvantaged groups. It comes in a number of forms including physical, verbal, emotional, economic and sexual. Research has shown that countries with less gender equality experience higher rates of domestic violence. In some countries, domestic violence is justified and is seen as a form of self-defense. It has continued to be an underreported crime worldwide. Below are the laws surrounding domestic violence crimes in the United States.
Violence Against Women Acts
United States federal laws have signed three Violence Against Women Acts (VAWA) in an effort to end domestic violence. The law enables victim advocates and government agencies to work together in creating prevention and victim support programs. This has resulted to about 50% reduction of violent victimizations by intimate partners, and 51% increase in the reporting of domestic violence through hotline calls since 2005.
Family Violence Prevention and Services Act
This act provides federal funding to help victims of domestic violence, as well as their subordinates. This enables the provision of formula grants which give financial aid in creating support programs for shelter, money and food to victims. The National Domestic Violence Hotline also provides support, information, referrals, safety planning, and crisis intervention in more than 170 languages to victims each year.
Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA)
The DELTA program is funded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) with the aim of spreading prevention strategies by understanding factors that influence violence. This is done by a social ecological model illustrating the connection between factors related to violence.
The Role of Police
Police play a crucial role in cases of domestic violence. In the legal amendment of the crime of “coercive control”, seeing violence as a pattern of controlling behaviors, police encouraged victims to keep a secret diary of their partners’ abusive behavior as evidence. Upon contacting the police for abuse, practical support is offered through a rapid response system, providing mobile phones, personal attack alarms, and security locks on doors. This enables the police to “mark” houses so they can get there as quickly as possible when called out.
Police also serve as referral agencies, functioning for domestic violence, housing department, sexual assault unit, family justice center, mediation or counselling. Police also can provide transport in a police car for vulnerable women, transporting them to such agencies. Aside from this, police also offer sympathetic and emotional support by listening to reported abuse by victims.
Indeed, despite the rise in domestic violence cases, the government is putting up legal measures to eradicate such an epidemic. It is, therefore, important for people in society to be aware of such laws against domestic violence. These will serve as preventive measures for further victimization, and cannot just save a life, but can also save a soul.
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