Domestic Violence In America Literature Review Example

Type of paper: Literature Review

Topic: Violence, Family, Crime, Domestic Violence, Physical Abuse, Criminal Justice, Sociology, Sexual Abuse

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/12/27


In the United States, as well as the world at large, the issue of violence against women remains a pressing problem. With thirty years experience in preventing and overcoming violence, Americans carefully calculate the extent of the problems and risks associated with it. Thus, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 25% of women in the US are exposed to domestic violence in their lifetime. It is also proved that women aged 20-24 are most likely to be abused by an intimate partner. And every sixth woman during her lifetime was the victim of rape or attempted rape.


Domestic violence, which exists since the emergence of the family, has become a national problem of modern democratic societies. In the United States since the 1960's it has been a number of major social institutions. The level of violent crime in the United States is very high. According to official statistics in 1999 on 100 thousand people were 4.55 premeditated murder. For comparison we present data on the number of murders in some countries in Western Europe and Scandinavia in 1999. For example, in Finland for 100 thousand population accounted for 2.77 kills, France - 1.63, in Germany - 1,22 in Italy - 1.40, in England - 1.45, in Switzerland - 1.25 in the Netherlands - 1.42. Although the US government has played an active role in supporting socially disadvantaged groups, in terms of assistance in the field of education, health and job search United States lags behind several countries of Western Europe and Scandinavia (e.g., Sweden, Germany, and others.). The US government allocates huge funds for the study of domestic violence and the development of new approaches to combat it. For example, to combat violence between intimate partners (intimate partner violence, IPV) from 1994 to 2000 the US government has allocated 435.75 million dollars, and to combat violence against elderly family members - 1.5 billion US dollars in 2000. Specific programs in this area conducted nine ministries United States, including the Ministry of Health, Education, Justice, Defense and others. In the last decade in the United States there is a strong tendency to a significant drop in the level of all forms of violent crime, including murder. The level of domestic violence is also reduced throughout the country since 1994.
Nevertheless, the number of research in this area the last thirty years has been steadily increasing. For example, the laboratory staff of Family University of New Hampshire published more than 250 articles and 30 books on the topic of domestic violence in the period 1974-1991. From 1976 to 1987 seven new journals devoted solely to the issue of domestic violence. No other field of sociology has observed such a rapid development of scientific knowledge. M. Strauss, one of the leading researchers of domestic violence in the United States, considers it a shining example of the construction of social problems in response to changes in American society and American sociology. Social movements of the 1960s, including the struggle for the rights of women and children; widespread opening crisis centers and shelters for victims of violence; increase in the number of economically independent women; extension staff of experts in the field of family therapy and counseling; shift in sociology from the functionalist theory to the theory of conflict; perception of sociology as a tool for the improvement of society - all this has created fertile ground for the emergence and development of sociology of domestic violence in the United States.
Despite concerns about the US public issue of domestic violence, the need to strengthen national measures to overcome it, some large American scholars and practitioners (M. Strauss, R. Gilles, M. Steinman, L. Lerman, D. Zorza, F. Bose) believe that the system response to domestic violence in the United States is in a crisis situation.
R. Gilles, an acknowledged expert in the field of domestic violence, said that the current system of child protection in the United States is in a crisis. Thus, about 50% of the children who died at the hands of their parents or persons who care for them were killed after they became the object of attention of child welfare services. In addition, with respect to at least 25 such services in different states in the US instituted legal proceedings for the improper performance of their duties. Possible causes of this crisis are most frequently associated with the following. Firstly, the existing funding is not sufficient to support the whole child welfare system at all expanding state employees, the introduction of an extensive system for responding to violence against children. Secondly, as to attract public attention to the problem there is an acute need for further expansion of staff able to promptly and adequately respond to all incidents of violence. Thirdly, it is necessary to solve the problem of adequate staff development. To date, there is an insufficient training of such specialists. Finally, the effective functioning of the child welfare system is limited to the rules of existing legislation and the action / inaction of judges. The fact is that the law requires judges to maximum efforts to preserve the family in any case, even against the advice of experts in child protection. Many see a way out in the reform legislation and the system of training of judges. However, R. Gilles believes that even the resolution of the above problems will not bring the child welfare system from the crisis. The most important cause of the crisis, he sees a lack of scientific research practices to address domestic violence, already embedded in the system of child protection.
G. Kemp in 1962 noted that, seeing the unwillingness of parents to report the truth about the real causes injury to a child and the circumstances under which they polucheny3, the majority of doctors, nurses and other medical staff did not even try to find it. Neither professional skills nor personal qualities, as a rule, have to ensure that the physician has assumed the role of a police officer conducting an investigation into the causes of crime.
More than half of all incidents of domestic violence were reported to the police. Police is the first and often the only social institution that interacts with perpetrators of domestic violence and their victims. Police are often criticized for indifference to the problem of domestic violence. Police officers, especially during the 1970s - early 1980s, tended to perceive domestic violence as a private matter, so "almost never arrested rapist." For example, for the previous murder of a spouse for two years in 85% of cases, the police have intervened in the conflicts of the family at least once, and 54% of murders - five or more times. When women are subjected to violence in the family and demanded the arrest of rapists, according to various studies arrest was made only in 3-10% of cases. In 1983, a victim of domestic violence, which has become as a result of violence committed by her husband, a disabled person, after several unsuccessful appeals to the police filed a lawsuit against the city and police department and received $ 2.3 million.
The health care system in the United States is represented by two main structures: the health care sector, focused primarily on helping individuals and the public health sector, working with groups of people (suffering, such as infectious diseases). While some doctors can adequately respond to complaints of patients, victims of domestic violence service sector of public health are often still doing not consider domestic violence a health problem. Many researchers believe that the health care sector work with victims of domestic violence, too, can not be considered adequate. It was doctors who play a key role in identifying cases of domestic violence. Despite the fact that the official rules prescribed by doctors to identify victims of domestic violence, even doctors are not interested in the circumstances of injuries and casualties thus do not receive the necessary assistance. For example, only 13% of women identified themselves in the research process as a victim of domestic violence, reported the questioning of Emergency Physicians on violence. In a survey of doctors, social workers and nurses emergency department was found that 54% of them have never tried to identify victims of domestic violence.
Among the reasons for this crisis is called, above all, the lack of doctors time to clarify the circumstances of injury, failure or inadequacy of vocational education, lack of knowledge of relevant legislation, cultural and communication barriers, the reluctance of patients to report the true causes of injuries and so on. It is necessary to take into account and formed Western European tradition as a "patient" and "doctor": regulation of relations between family members is outside the remit of the last (if it is not a specialist in family therapy). It is not surprising that the most "sensitive" to domestic violence were psychiatrists, as it can expand the market for their services and increase their influence in society, and also the most distant from the interaction with patients and relatively low-status radiologist.
US lawmakers have responded quickly to the "discovery" of the problem of violence in the family: first the children, then of women, men and elderly relatives, which resulted in the adoption of a number of special laws. About the effectiveness of most of them at the moment nothing is known. However, some experts are already talking about the hasty use of certain legitimate measures. For example, laws that prescribe medical personnel to report suspected domestic violence to the police or other special services (depending on state law) may have a negative effect. Violation of the principle of confidentiality undermines the trust of patients to medical staff. This may prevent seeking medical help as victims of violence and perpetrators of violence. The likelihood of retaliation victims of violence and medical personnel is increases. Finally, the efficiency of the doctors who try not to ask too many questions reduces, in order to avoid subsequent compulsory interaction with special services.
As a result, the well-known experiment in the field of domestic violence, conducted by L. Sherman and Richard Burke in 1984 in Minneapolis, the most effective strategy was recognized as mandatory arrest of the perpetrator of violence in the home, and by the end of the 1980s in many police departments country it has become common practice. However, in the 1990s, have been identified errors in the design and conduct an experiment that could affect the results, which in turn allowed talking about their hasty introduction to life. Similar studies were conducted in five other US cities. None of them showed that the arrest itself can lead to a decrease in the level of subsequent violence. Although the results of the experiments are not directly indicate that the arrest is useless, L. Sherman and others have expressed serious doubts about the effectiveness of universal use of arrest with family conflicts.
The system of social protection of women from domestic violence is based on a multitude of programs and practices (about 1800); particularly prevalent arising 1970s asylum for women (1200). Today, there are various social network services that provide medical and legal services, 24-hour "hot line" advice in finding housing and employment, treatment of alcohol and drug abuse, and so on Unfortunately, most studies of shelters for women are descriptive and do not allow us to judge the effectiveness of these programs. The only semi-experimental study that meets the requirements of science was conducted in 1986 by R. Burke and others. It turned out that asylum reduce the risk of future violence only for those women who gain control over their lives. On the other hand, the shelter can have no effect on the level of violence or even increase the likelihood of its recurrence, if the victim does not want to break the family (or other) relationship with the perpetrator. Of particular interest to us is the answer to the question why the experts of the Institute "first contact" 5 so reluctant to respond to the problem of domestic violence.
The inefficiency of activity of a number of social institutions in overcoming domestic violence can be explained by the fact that violence against family members are not always considered criminal behavior because of some implicit cultural norms. The tendency to apply different standards to the crime in and outside the family in part reflects the fact that what is happening in the family and expectations for family relationships are very different from the expectations and attitudes in other social groups and institutions. It is impossible to say with certainty, would benefit the family and society as a whole, if the police, the courts and the public began to apply the same standards to offenses committed within the family and outside it.
The application of equal standards to the crime in the family and outside it is complicated by the presence of contradictory and conflicting interests of the state in relation to the family. On the one hand, it seeks to build civil society, whose members could live without fear of becoming a victim of crime. These are dictated by government measures to prevent crime and combat it. On the other hand, the state is interested in preserving the integrity of the family, so in relation to it may apply the rules and regulations that do not apply to all other social institutions. The most obvious is the desire to limit the possibility of the collapse of the family. Parents cannot give up their children, husbands and wives must obtain permission from the spouse to divorce. Regulatory uncertainty is expressed here is that in addition to social and legitimate mechanisms that connect family members with each other, there are norms that justify a certain level of cruel and violent behavior among family members. These rules allow the physical punishment of children, as well as the open expression of feelings (including hostile) that nourish family members to each other. For example, in the office, institution or enterprise selfishness, rudeness and incompetence of the employee does not give others the right to hit him. If this happens in the family, violence is seen as acceptable and often as necessary. Regulatory uncertainty is typical of other criminal acts committed within the family, for example, crimes against property. The punishment for theft, committed by the child in the family and for such theft committed by an outsider, is often very different. If a family where the offense is to be applied standards applicable outside, there may be unexpected problems. In particular, it is difficult to expect from the police and the courts as a full understanding of the unique circumstances of each family, as well as actions in the interests of the person (family as a whole) has committed a crime.


Thus, although the role of science in the formation of social policy is great, in the field of domestic violence the number of studies demonstrating the effectiveness of the expensive costing the state policies and practices, is minimal. Currently, public funds and private investors it is no longer sufficient to justify the resource requirements only by the desire to "fight against domestic violence." We need scientific proof effectiveness of programs and strategies. In 1994, the National Academy of Sciences of the United States founded the Committee on the assessment of family violence interventions. The Committee received important results. It was found that the effectiveness of many programs that are embedded in practice without additional research (e.g., protective orders, shelters for women, mandatory reporting of cases of police violence, mandatory arrest of the perpetrator and others.), With the wide use was questionable; work program with the consequences of violence prevail over preventive measures; duration and intensity of a number of programs are unsatisfactory; the work of different services and programs poorly coordinated.


Barnett, O., & Perrin, C. (1997). Family violence across the lifespan: An introduction. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Buzawa, E., & Buzawa, C. (n.d.). Responding to domestic violence: The integration of criminal justice and human services (Fourth ed.).
Chalk, R. (1998). Violence in families assessing prevention and treatment programs. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
Finkelman, B. (1995). Physical and emotional abuse and neglect. New York: Garland Pub.
Gelles, R. (1979). Family violence. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications.

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