Marriage answers the deep urge that most people possess to be intimately connected with one another and to bear children. Marriage has its variations, good and bad throughout human history. It has evolved and developed, but still has a way to go in the matter of spousal abuse and inequality between men and women. Today, around the world at least one woman in every three has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Violence against women and girls continues to be a global epidemic and is considered one of the most pervasive of human rights violations.
Violence against women and girls includes physical, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse. For the past years various sectors of the government have been trying to find ways to curb this major health and societal problem that devastatingly affected individuals, families, and communities. A lot of approaches and treatment were tried including the enforcement of criminal action and civil relief, counseling, and mediation. These approaches and treatment paved way to different studies conducted to determine their effectivity and its impact to the batterer, the victim, family, and community.
These studies also tried to determine whether the treatment or approach used has effectively reduced violence and whether a particular treatment or approach works better than the rest. However, these studies conducted fall short on the reliability and validity aspects affecting its results. The said shortcoming is influenced by so many factors including changes in reported rates of abuse according to the definition of violence used, the way questions are asked, the type of the target population, and the methodology of the study.
Accordingly, methodology is very important to test the reliability and validity of the result and that there is a “need to address the impact of the methodology on the results obtained” (Fedder, 1995, p. 65). Because of this inadequate data to support further program and studies of the government and other organization there is a need to device a study that would assess the treatment, approach, or program scientifically and systematically.
Accurate and comparable data on violence against women are needed to strengthen advocacy, help policymakers understand the problem, and guide the design of preventive interventions. On the other hand, government and other private organizations with a the goal of protecting battered women designed some programs to address the issue of violence and to help the victim. The government through its judicial system is committed to respond to the needs of victims of domestic violence and their families and continues to make strides in effectuating civil legal relief.
According to Klein and Orloff (1999) “the American judicial system is improving the accessibility and efficiency of the legal protection available to victims of domestic violence by allowing victims to seek a civil protection order before the abuse escalates into an even more dangerous and violent pattern” (1999, pp. 44-45). These civil protection orders were controversial when they came into use in the United States, but there were convincing reasons that they were important for protecting women against domestic violence. While a civil protection order interferes with an abuser’s property rights (i. e.
, the right to live in one’s house), the legislature made a determination that a woman’s right to be free from violence is more important than the abuser’s property rights. When an abuser was putting other members of the household in danger with his behavior, justice required that he should leave the home, not the women and the children. This civil relief has expanded its scope to include family members (children) and individuals who helped the victim. This legal relief encouraged victims of domestic violence to turn to civil law remedies through the civil protection orders to escape from further abuse.
This civil relief is considered to have an important role in reducing the numbers of domestic violence since the courts intervene before violence escalates and become more dangerous. However, because of its intricacies and possible legal complexities, there is a need for advocates to closely monitor the laws and their implementation and educate officials in order for the civil protection to be an adequate remedy. The intention of the law may be good but its implementation measures its effectivity and impact.
The training needs of the police and judicial personnel in the procedure and enforcement of the act must be assessed and dealt with before the said authorities will partake in the implementation and enforcement of the said remedy. Police and judicial personnel should understand that their role requires that they have a broader understanding of the dynamics of human being, the nature of domestic violence, and their legitimate roles in domestic calls in order to have a more effective outcome on their approach in curbing domestic violence.
In civil legal relief, the victim does not have to suffer serious physical harm in order to obtain an Order of Protection in court. The process does not depend on a criminal case. Therefore the victim can obtain an Order of Protection for mental abuse, insults, or threats of physical abuse in a civil case. However, one major disadvantage of seeking and Order of Protection is that it takes time and the victim may face other legal problems. The victim may not have thought or may not be educated on this issue.
Also, as the Order of Protection is just a piece of paper, it does not give an absolute guarantee that the batterer will stop from acting on the same violent way towards the victim or other family member without more serious consequence like being put to jail. The batterer still has opportunity to retaliate by filing other legal relief or doing more damaging actions against the victim. Thus on this case, the victim should make the choice of action and should be informed first of the advantages and disadvantages of her decision.
She must first be fully aware and ready for potential consequences of a civil legal relief. Resorting immediately to civil court relief may have an immediate positive effect for the victim but this could also stretch the gap between the batterer and the victim. This approach can just further strain the relationship of the couple and may make reformation of batterer’s character remote as the relief may evoke negative feelings in the offender. This will also make the relationship of the couple beyond repair even to friendly terms only.
The civil action may also place the victim and the children through a grueling process that may lead to other damaging consequences. Relying on the court intervention through civil legal relief may bring positive effect to the victim but may also aggravate the whole situation. Even if there is proof of the violence committed by the batterer, he is still entitled to the presumption of innocence before the law and has the right to due process. A decision on the civil relief though has no legal implication on the criminal liability of the batterer may have a negative psychological effect to the batterer.
This action may not foster reformation nor give positive motivation to change because the relief partake the character of a penalty. The aim of the action to reduce violence is therefore defeated because of the punitive nature of the approach rather than corrective. The view that mediation and couples counseling approach imply that both parties are responsible for the perpetrator’s violent behavior, a message that blames victims and fails to hold offenders accountable for their crimes is an unfounded conclusion.
Mediation in the objective sense does not operate to presume that both parties are accountable for the violence rather it gives both parties equal power to talk and negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement. An effective counselor can help the couple by maintaining a balance of power where both parties are given equal opportunities to express oneself. Mediation is an opportunity that affords each party to be mature enough to talk matters in a civil manner. Though there is a no guarantee of success on this approach, but all approaches and treatment has a risk of failure and damage involved.
When we consider that even the most skilled mediator or therapist cannot shift the balance of power when one party has abused or assaulted the other, making mediation and joint counseling dangerous and ineffective in such cases reinforces the bias against the abuser. On the other hand, other organization believed that law enforcement in domestic violence may undermine the safety of the victim and the accountability of the batterer. Because of this, they believe that educating through appropriate programs may work effectively for both parties.
Though there are programs that seek to assist and protect battered women, but those are sometimes one-sided. The batterer should be taken into consideration as the said person might also be needing help. The person might have the desire to help but nobody can guide the way. For instance, the Duluth model of treatment group is based on a few guiding principles. First, the groups focus on the safety of the victim and children. Second, the groups work to hold the perpetrator, not the victim, accountable for his abusive behavior and for stopping the abuse. Third, the groups respect the victim’s choices and ability to direct her own life.
This program like all other efforts is “limited in its total vision, though it has made some key contribution to the national search for an intervention and prevention strategy” (Bergen, Edleson, Renzetti, 2005, p. 372. ). Although the goal of the batterers’ treatment group is to stop the perpetrators’ abusive behaviors, it is not always successful. Advocates must be realistic about the outcomes to expect from batterers’ treatment groups. The community confrontation program like the one initiated by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP) which holds the belief that “batterers are capable of transformation” (Bergen, et al.
, p. 376) provides opportunities to batterers. It also encouraged awareness and support from different agencies as well as the community. It affords open communication among many intervening group and individuals connected to the case, making communication essential in their relationship and interaction in the program Further, its way of giving every participating agency a constant forum for reflection affords each person involved the opportunity to grow and to broaden their knowledge and widen their understanding on the issues.
Involvement and sense of commitment among the agencies and people involved are fostered. This community confrontation treatment provides the batterer an option to have a better second chance. This also allows the batterer to discover aspects of his personality and capability that are not yet known to him. On the same process it does not only help the victim, the batterer, but the community as a whole. This approach treatment allows the advocates to also model the kind of behavior the batterer should acquire.
According to observational learning “a fundamental way humans acquire skills and behavior is by observing behaviors of others. A learned behavior will be enacted if it leads directly to a desired outcome, if it has been observed to be effective for the model, or is self-satisfying” (Hall, Lindzey, & Campbell, 1998, pp. 596-598). The issue of physical and sexual violence has long been a health and societal problem and ending this requires a long-term commitment and strategies involving all parts of society. An effective strategy to address this issue is of utmost necessity.
According to Paymar (2000) “lobbying and community education are two possible components of an advocacy strategy. Both can be used effectively by advocates to increase state protection of victims of domestic violence and state efforts to hold batterers accountable” and become better persons. Many government agencies have committed themselves to overcoming violence against women by passing and enforcing laws that ensure women’s legal right and punish batterers, however, the rule of equality and equity should not be compromised.
In addition, community-based strategies can focus on empowering women, reaching out to men, and changing the beliefs and attitudes that permit abusive behavior. Only when women gain their place as equal members of society will violence against women no longer be an invisible norm. Thus, efforts to deal with the crisis of violence must be unified rather than fragmented. Academic disciplines and professional allegiances should not set boundaries in its effort to help women and curb domestic violence that can make positive impact in the lives of men and women in the future.
Bergen, R. K. , Edleson, J. L. , & Renzetti, C. M. (2005). Violence against women. USA: Pearson Education, Inc. Feder, L (Ed). (1999). Women and domestic violence: An interdisciplinary approach. NY: The Haworth Press, Inc. Hall, C. S. , Linzey, G. , Campbell, J. B. (1998). Theories of personality (4th ed). USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Paymar, M. (2000). Violent no more: Helping men and domestic abuse. Houston House. Retrieved February 02, 2007, from http//www. umn. edu/humanrts/svaw/domestic/explore/9prevention. htm