Intimate Partner Violence

Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence

Paid Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence

The Australian Congress of Trade Unions (ACTU)–a union body representing 2.5 million trade union members–has recently come out in support of domestic violence leave for workers struggling with family violence. The current proposal would allow for 10 days of paid leave for permanent workers. The ACTU has taken up the issue of domestic violence for a number of reasons. ACTU president Ged Kearney highlights that a “significant number” of Australian women who experience domestic violence are union members themselves, making paid leave a key issue for working people and thier unions. Domestic violence leave could also help to combat the isolation that many victims experience, with Kearney noting that “…employers are helping send the message that family violence must not be tolerated or swept under the carpet”.

ACTU’s proposal comes months after Telstra, a large private sector employer in Australia, announced they would begin providing their employees 10 days of domestic violence leave per year.

Paid leave for workers experiencing domestic violence is a major step in the right direction with regards to domestic violence policy and workplace practices. This policy ensures that victims can focus on finding solutions that end the violence in their lives without risking their jobs and financial security. This unprecedented move is a positive addition to the web of services and responses to domestic violence that currently exist in Australia and should be placed on the agenda for advocates and professionals working in the field in United States. 

Research, Intimate Partner Violence, Healing, Domestic Violence

Connecting the Dots: An Overview of the Links of Multiple Forms of Violence

The following is a summary of Connecting the Dots: An Overview of the Links of Multiple Forms of Violence (Center for Disease Control, 2014). The aim of the report is, firstly, to highlight the often overlooked connections between various forms of violence including child abuse, intimate partner violence, bullying, and community violence. The report goes on to urge service providers to break down the walls that currently exist between specialized fields in order to more adequately address the harms created by violent behavior and to prevent continued perpetuation.

“Professionally we have silos, and we operate in these silos we’ve got to break down. Across the country, people working to prevent child abuse are right across the hall from people working on violence against women, and they don’t work together. As we go into communities to bring everybody to the table, don’t let people say, ‘I work on child abuse, but this is about gang violence.’ Don’t let people say, ‘I work on violence against women, and this is about child abuse.’ This thing, all this violence, is connected.” -Deborah Prothrow-Stith, MD, Adjunct Professor, Harvard School of Public Health

Risk Factors and Protective Factors

Violent behavior is incredibly complex and is influenced by a myriad of risk factors–the things that put an individual at greater risk for experiencing and perpetrating violence–and protective factors–things that increase resiliency and decrease the likelihood that someone will engage in or be victim to violence. The CDC has identified the following risk and protective factors with regards to violent behavior:

Examples of risk factors are: rigid social beliefs about what is “masculine” and “feminine,” lack of job opportunities, and family conflict

Examples of protective factors are: connection to a caring adult or access to mental health services

The Impact of Violence on Development

-Children who grow up in safe and nurturing environments “learn empathy, impulse control, anger management and problem-solving—all skills that protect against violence”
-Children who grow up in persistently violent, unstable, and/or unsafe environments often interpret situations to be threatening and are more likely to respond violently (fight) or to avoid the situation together (flee)
-These responses, termed fight-or-flight, “are survival skills that people are born with and often override other skills that enable non-violent conflict resolution, such as impulse control, empathy, anger management, and problem-solving skills”

Community Context and the Co-Occurrence of Multiple Forms of Violence

-Low social cohesion within communities and lack of economic opportunities are associated with higher rates of intimate partner violence, child abuse and maltreatment, and youth violence
-Individuals who lack adequate support from friends, family members, or neighbors, have been found to perpetrate partner abuse, child maltreatment, and/or elder abuse at rates higher than their more socially integrated counterparts
-Witnessing community violence is a risk factor for being bullied and for perpetrating sexual violence
-Access to mental health and substance abuse services in addition to coordination of resources and services across community agencies increases communities’ resiliency to violence

Healing, Empowerment, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Restorative Justice, Transformative Justice, Violence Intervention, Women

Creating Victim Centered Responses to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

We are very excited to share the following information on upcoming events taking place in New York and in California! Both events focus on beginning a dialogue around the creation of more sensitive and victim-centered responses to partner violence and sexual assault. Please see below for more information.

Addressing Victims’ Needs: Creating Holistic Models of Support for Victims of Intimate Partner Violence

Hosted by NYU Center on Violence and Recovery
Kimmel Center, New York University, 60 Washington Square South, Room 905, New York, New York, 10003
Thursday, April 16 at 3:00pm – 5:00pm EST

Community experts, Dr. Faye Zakheim, Billye Jones, Priya Chandra, and the Reverend Dr. Donna Schaper, will discuss the creation of holistic models of support for victims of intimate partner violence. Participants will gain insight into the commonly overlooked needs of unique populations and the challenges of building comprehensive services for victims. They will also learn how spiritual life, community integration, and support groups can play a role in the healing process. Light refreshments will be served.

To RSVP, visit CVR’s Facebook page.

Justice That Heals: Confronting Gender Violence on Campus & in Communities

Hosted by Restorative Justice Center at University of California, Berkeley
Hearst Field Annex D-37, University of California, Berkeley
Saturday, April 11 at 9:30am – 4:30pm PST


With campus and criminal justice policies under fire for ignoring the needs of survivors of gender-based violence, people are looking for alternatives. This conference brings together academics and activists to explore the possibilities and limitations of Restorative / Transformative Justice in response to sexual violence and misconduct on campus and in communities that experience structural oppression.

Keynote speaker Dr. Mary Koss is the co-founder and principal investigator of the RESTORE program in Arizona, which has designed Restorative processes that emphasize the needs of survivors and responsible parties. She is now applying her expertise to the question of sexual misconduct on college campuses. Workshops and panels will explain RJ / TJ processes and present critical analysis of their capacity to repair flawed or broken systems.

For questions or concerns email: rjcenterberkeley@gmail.com
To RSVP, visit the Restorative Justice Center’s Facebook page

Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Research, Uncategorized

Issues in Recovery: Addressing Intimate Partner Violence

DrugScope have been working with London services, commissioners, and academics to examine how the needs of individuals who have experienced intimate partner violence can be better addressed within substance misuse services. Lauren Garland writes about the new briefing published by DrugScope on behalf of the Recovery partnership.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an issue which disproportionately affects people accessing drug and alcohol services. Research suggests that women who have experienced gender based violence are 5.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with a substance misuse problem over the course of their lifetime, while anotherstudy suggests that 21% of people who had experienced IPV believed that the perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol and 8% thought the perpetrator had used illicit drugs.

DrugScope have published a briefing paper which considers how substance misuse systems and services can better address the needs of people affected by drug and alcohol problems and…

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Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Violence Intervention

Utah above national average for domestic violence homicides; victim advocates seek more resources

Originally posted on fox13now.com:

SALT LAKE CITY — Statistics show domestic violence is on the rise nationally, and in Utah the resources aimed to help people escape threatening situations are stretched to capacity.

According to the Utah Department of Health, at least one woman is murdered by her intimate partner each month. Just last week in Eagle Mountain, a woman shot her husband dead in their living room as their children slept upstairs. The problem is increasing nationwide, but the issue of intimate partner violence in Utah is greater than the national average.

Among those who have died in Utah at the hands of their partners or parents are 19-year-old Mackenzie Madden and 26-year-old Amanda Lee Hoyt as well as Kelly, Jaden and Haley Boren.

“In Utah, when we look at a 10-year trend, we’re looking at almost 43 percent of our homicides are domestic violence related,” said Jennifer Oxborrow, who…

View original 513 more words

Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Research, Uncategorized, Violence Intervention

Reducing Rates of Re-offending: What works and what doesn't

Below is a summary of a January 2013 report entitled, What works to reduce recidivism by domestic violence offenders? This report was published by Washington State Institute for Public Policy. All statistics, research findings, and information related to Washington state’s domestic violence laws presented below, were drawn from the Institute's report which can be accessed here..

Following a 2012 legislative mandate, Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) set out to update it’s review of the literature on the efficacy of domestic violence (DV) treatment programs. In particular, WSIPP focused on treatment outcomes for offenders mandated to Duluth-style programs. According to the institute, Washington State law requires that DV treatment programs adhere to Duluth Model guidelines which conceptualize domestic violence as the following: “...a gender-specific behavior which is socially and historically constructed. Men are socialized to take control and to use physical force when necessary to maintain dominance”. Substance abuse, mental illness, dysfunctional relationship dynamics, and other potentially relevant etiological issues are not seen as related within this model. In Washington State--as well as in states with similar laws--the use of non-Duluth treatment programs such as cognitive behavioral therapy, substance abuse treatment, or anger management is prohibited.

In January 2013, WSIPP released a report outlining the results of their systematic review of group-based treatment for domestic violence offenders. Below are some of the most pertinent findings.

Summary conclusions: “Based on six rigorous outcome evaluations of group-based DV treatment for male offenders, we conclude that the Duluth model, the most common treatment approach, appears to have no effect on recidivism. This updated finding is consistent with our (and others’) previous work on this topic. There may be other reasons for courts to order offenders to participate in these Duluth-like programs, but the evidence suggests that DV recidivism will not decrease as a result” (pg. 12)

Impact on recidivism for “Duluth-like” programs: “We also considered programs to be similar to Duluth if the study authors said the curriculum included “power and control” dynamics, “sex role stereotyping,” or gender-based values. Six of the 11 effect sizes assessed Duluth-like programs. We analyzed separately the results of these six effect sizes and found that, on average, programs using Duluth-like models had no effect on recidivism (see the upper panel in Exhibit 3); therefore, this approach cannot be considered “evidence-based” (or research-based or promising)” (pg. 6)

Impact on recidivism for non-Duluth Model programs: “...when these other non-Duluth models are analyzed as a whole, the combined effects indicate a statistically significant reduction in DV recidivism (the lower “average effect size” in Exhibit 3). The average effect was a 33% reduction in domestic violence recidivism” (pg. 6)

The models that indicate efficacy with regards to reducing repeat incidents of DV offending in Exhibit 3 include:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (Palmer, 1992, and Dunford, 2000b) Relationship enhancement (Waldo, 1988) Substance abuse treatment (Easton, 2007) Group couples counseling (Dunford, 2000a)

Based on their research, WSIPP also suggest that addressing offender psychopathology through therapy aimed at treating Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) could be efficacious. This is particularly promising they note, given that both BPD and PTSD are highly prevalent among DV offenders and both disorders are associated with impulsive and aggressive behavior (pg. 7)

Rethinking our Dependence on the Duluth Model Paradigm

Research such as this is hugely important for the domestic violence field. Data on rates of DV incidents and on rates of DV incidents which end in homicide continues to show that domestic violence remains a major social problem. The development and utilization of evidence-based treatment models which can be shown to reduce recidivism has never been more pressing. In their January 2013 report, WSIPP highlights that 44 of 50 states in the U.S have legal guidelines that stipulate the kind of treatment professionals can legally administer. Furthermore, "In 28 states, standards for DV treatment specify the Duluth model by name, or require that power and control dynamics—central to the Duluth model—must be included in the treatment curriculum".

This mandate is highly troubling. When put to the test via rigorous research standards the Duluth Model fails time and again to reduce rates of re-offending and yet it remains the treatment of choice for professionals engaged in this difficult work. In light of this failure, a paradigm shift regarding our conceptualization of domestic violence, including how we view and work with both victim and offender, is needed. A suggestion such as this which challenges the core assumptions of the feminist-rooted Duluth Model is viewed by many as an anti-woman, victim-blaming stance. We cannot however continue to allow criticisms and challenges such as this to prevent us from developing innovative work in the area of violence intervention and treatment.

Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, Empowerment, Healing, Intimate Partner Violence, Restorative Justice, Schools, Uncategorized, Violence Intervention, Women, Youth

Continued success of RJ in schools offers hope for the domestic violence field

Recently released data from the 2013-14 school year reveals that suspension and expulsion rates throughout California public schools continue to decline. This is the second year in a row that rates of suspensions and expulsions have dropped across the state. The report, released by the California Department of Education (CDE), notes that this downward trend has correlated with the implementation of innovative and non-punitive responses to classroom rule breaking. Such responses include the development and broad utilization of restorative justice programs. Lisa Schmidt--a juvenile defense attorney who represents youth in suspension and expulsion hearings--contends that the results presented in the CDE report have implications that extend far beyond student discipline. For example, Schmidt highlights that schools with restorative justice programs not only report lower rates of suspension and expulsion, they also report marked improvements in other areas including graduation rates, absenteeism, and literacy.

Schmidt goes on to say that the efficacy of restorative justice programs lies in the core assumption that students’ problem behavior can be positively changed: “...restorative justice doesn’t simply remove a problem from the classroom. Instead it uses misbehavior as a learning opportunity, teaching students the consequences of their actions and how to make better choices”.

Implications for Domestic Violence Intervention

Here at the Center on Violence and Recovery (CVR) we remain committed to the idea that the theory of restorative justice (RJ) offers victims of violence and trauma efficacious ways of ending the violence that has plagued their lives. This includes victims of domestic and intimate partner violence. We are inspired by the diligent work of teachers, parents, and students in public schools across the nation who have fought back against punitive responses to school-based behavior infractions--responses which have wholly failed to address the identified problem behavior. The data released by the CDE should motivate all those who are passionate about the development of more effective and victim-centered responses to crime and wrongdoing.

CVR strongly believes that RJ theory and practice, when used properly, can increase victim safety, help survivors heal, and ultimately decrease rates of repeat incidents of domestic violence. In addition to working with survivors around their identified needs, RJ offers the potential to intervene with perpetrators in a meaningful way by holding offenders accountable for their actions and teaching alternatives to violent and aggressive behavior.

Our belief in RJ as a DV intervention stems from the encouraging research results of CVR’s National Science Foundation funded-study which indicated that RJ-based interventions for domestic violence can be both safe and effective with regards to preventing future violent incidents (Mills, Barocas, & Ariel, 2012). Published in 2012, the research found that when compared to offenders who had undergone treatment in a traditional batterer intervention program, offenders who in the RJ-based model, recidivated at significantly lower rates 12-months post random assignment. This research is currently being replicated in Salt Lake City, UT.

Coupled with the growing support that restorative justice programs are receiving in schools across the nation to deal with problematic, defiant, and sometimes violent behavior, these findings provide victims and advocates alike tangible hope for a violence-free future.

For more information on the exciting and innovative research work underway at CVR, please visit our website here

Full citation for the Center's 2012 study: The next generation of court-mandated domestic violence treatment: A comparison study of batterer intervention and restorative justice programs. Journal of Experimental Criminology 9(1) DOI: 10.1007/s11292-012-9164-x

Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Research, Violence Intervention

Arrest of Offender Linked to Victim Mortality

The Milwaukee Domestic Violence Experiment In 1992, results from the Milwaukee Domestic Violence Experiment were published, revealing that the implementation of mandatory arrest laws had failed to decrease rates of re-assault in domestic violence (DV) cases. The experiment compared the impact of arrest and detention, with the offender eligible for release on $250 bail; arrest and detention, with the offender quickly released on personal recognizance; and finally, no arrest, with the suspect read a standardized warning by responding officers.

After comparing results from 1,200 DV cases, researchers found that the arrest of offenders had variable deterrence effects depending on specific offender characteristics. For example, when the offender was white, employed, and/or married to the victim, arrest was found to have a strong deterrence effect. While for offenders who were Black, unemployed, and/or cohabitating with an unmarried partner, arrest increased both the prevalence and the severity of future violent incidents. The study calculated, “….that 10,000 arrested whites produce 2,504 fewer acts of domestic violence a year than warned whites, while 10,000 arrested blacks produce 1,803 more acts of violence per year than warned blacks…” (Sherman et al., pp. 160, 1992). Looking at employment status as a variable, researchers found that “With 958 fewer acts of violence committed against victims of 10,000 employed suspects who had been arrested than those who had been warned, the price equals 2,274 more acts of violence per 10,000 unemployed suspects who had been arrested than if they had only been warned” (Sherman et al., pp. 160, 1992).

Follow-up Study: Increased Premature Death of Domestic Violence Victims from Arrest

Twenty-three years later researchers Lawrence W. Sherman and Heather M. Harris followed up on the landmark Milwaukee Domestic Violence Experiment and found shocking results. After analyzing state and national death data on 1,125 victims enrolled in the Milwaukee Experiment, researchers found that victims whose partners had been arrested and jailed, rather than warned, were 64% more likely to have died prematurely. Heart disease, cancer, and other "internal illnesses" caused the overwhelming majority of deaths. Such illnesses are associated with chronic stress, leading researchers to postulate that the stress of having their partner arrested contributed greatly to these detrimental health outcomes.

As in the original study, race was found to be a significant variable in predicting premature death among victims. White victims whose partners were arrested rather than warned had a 9% higher death rate. Black victims on the other hand, had a 98% higher death rate when their partners were arrested. Employment was, again, an important variable. For white and Black victims alike, victim employment at the time of their partner's arrest was correlated with higher victim mortality (Sherman & Harris, 2014). However, victim mortality among employed Black victims was the greatest. Out of the 125 employed Black victims whose partners were arrested following a DV offense, 14 (11%) died prematurely while none (0%) of the 67 employed Black victims whose partners were warned died at the 23-year follow-up (Sherman & Harris, 2014).

Implications

The results of both studies call into question the efficacy of mandatory arrest policies for addressing the problem of partner violence. Although certain offenders in the Milwaukee Domestic Violence Experiment were deterred by arrest, others were not. This means that while some victims can in fact benefit from the involvement of law enforcement officials, other victims not only experience little reprieve from partner violence, the violence perpetrated against them increases in frequency and severity following their partners arrest.

Sherman and Harris's follow up study reveals even more troubling findings. Namely, that in addition to more frequent experiences of partner violence over their lifetime, premature death due to stress-related illnesses increased significantly among Black victims whose partners were arrested.

Findings such as these might reveal a reality that is hard to accept, Sherman concedes. However, Sherman continues, "the moral burden of proof now lies with those who wish to continue this mass arrest policy".

Community-Based Intervention, Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Restorative Justice, Transformative Justice, Uncategorized, Violence Intervention, Women

Creative Interventions: Community-Based IPV Intervention

The Mission of Creative Interventions is to create community-based options for interventions to interpersonal violence. Creative Interventions provides collective, creative, and flexible solutions, which take into account the realities and resources of each situation and community. By bringing knowledge and power back to those closest to and most impacted by violence, Creative Interventions breaks isolation and clears the path towards holistic, viable and sustainable systems of violence intervention and community health.

Established in 2004, Creative Interventions is an innovative and powerful resource for survivors and advocates who have experienced frustration and failure with current responses to intimate partner violence (IPV). Mimi Kim, founder of Creative Interventions, reports that after working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault for over 15 years she began to ask herself challenging questions related to the assumptions underlying traditional intervention strategies.

“After taking hundreds of crisis calls from survivors of domestic violence, I realized that I always asked the questions, Have you thought of leaving? Did you call the police? Why did my solutions assume that leaving was the only option? Why did they assume that the best way to achieve safety was to call the police? Why weren’t there any other options?”

This is an indispensable resource for everyone who works in the domestic violence field. On their website, Creative Intervention provides access to a Toolkit which outlines the community-based model for violence intervention. This toolkit can be downloaded in full, or if more appropriate, the individual intervention tools can be downloaded and tailored to fit victim and/or agency need.

For more information on the exciting work underway at Creative Interventions, please visit their website by clicking here.

To access the Toolkit, click here

Domestic Violence, DV Statistics, Empowerment, Intimate Partner Violence, Research, Uncategorized, Violence Intervention, Women

IPV and the Military

Pacific Standard contributor Lauren Kirchner recently reviewed a 2013 Journal of Family Violence study examining Veterans Health Administration (VHA) perspectives on screening patients for intimate partner violence (IPV). The study reveals that female veterans experience IPV at rates much higher than the general public. The study also highlights that while women comprise a growing number of active duty personnel and veterans, their unique health care needs often go unaddressed. VHA doctors lamented the lack the training they receive when it comes to identifying and intervening in cases of IPV. One doctor interviewed for the study had the following to say about screening for domestic violence among female veterans: “It’s just really not on my radar. It is so overshadowed by other mental health issues and substance abuse issues that, relative to those topics, IPV isn’t really up there.”

This failure to recognize the role that IPV plays in exacerbating such issues speaks to the need for increased training among VHA practitioners around identifying IPV in patients. For IPV survivors and advocates, it comes as no surprise that women experiencing abuse would present with a myriad of mental health concerns and substance abuse issues—particularly if this abuse is compounded by combat related trauma.

While millions gather today to pay tribute to the men and women who have served in the nation’s military, let us also acknowledge the problem of IPV for female veterans and their families. Improving the healthcare that America’s veterans receive is no doubt the best way to honor their service.

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Domestic Violence, DV Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence, Uncategorized

NO MORE: Challenging the Current DV Paradigm

This month, the NO MORE PSA Campaign launched a series of print, broadcast, online, and outdoor advertisements, the goal of which is to raise awareness around issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. The 3-year long campaign was developed in response to a study conducted earlier this year which revealed what many advocates and survivors have long known--namely, that domestic violence and sexual assault continue to be widespread and that there exists a shockingly high degree of silence and inaction around both issues. A call to action

Given these findings, the NO MORE campaign has chosen not to direct their message to individual victims or offenders. Instead, the campaign calls on friends and family members to take action to intervene in potentially violent situations to prevent survivors from experiencing further victimization. The message of NO MORE is also directed at society as a whole; challenging widespread beliefs about accountability and victimization.

In the print and television ads, celebrities such as Mariska Hargitay call for an end to the excuses commonly used to justify inaction. Rationalizations such as "She was really drunk", "He's such a nice guy though", or "Why doesn't she just leave" are among the many which are exposed. Below are two of the many online videos produced by NO MORE.


The brilliance of the this campaign lies in its message of broad accountability, calling on friends, family members, and even coworkers to do their part to end or prevent sexual assault and domestic violence. Such a message refocuses the accusatory attention often directed at survivors of victimization--attention which sadly blames the survivor for being abused or sexually assaulted. The inclusion of men in the delivery of the NO MORE campaign's message is also a step in the right direction. Too often women are instructed on how to best protect themselves against a potential assault. We are told to not go out alone at night, to carry pepper spray with us at all times, and to be careful of how much alcohol we drink at a party. Those who are intent on harming women are unfortunately not included in conversations about ending sexual assault and domestic violence, thus absolving them of any responsibility for their wrongdoing and further stigmatizing victims. Furthermore, as can be seen in one of the videos above, NO MORE includes statistics on male victims of intimate violence and sexual assault, challenging the notion that men are always perpetrators of violence and never the victims.

Unfortunately however, the NO MORE ads fail to address the issue of domestic violence within same-sex relationships. In addition to male victimization, intimate violence between LGBTQ couples is under addressed in the anti-violence movement. The inclusion of statistics as they relate to rates of victimization in the LGBTQ community would have served to further strengthen the message of this campaign.

Redefining the victim

As was mentioned above, it is widely believed that men are always perpetrators of violence while women are always victims. Not only are these beliefs inaccurate as they relate to the reality of male victimization, they assume that violence only takes place within heterosexual relationships. Advocating for a more inclusive definition of victim is not intended to undermine the gendered nature of domestic violence and sexual assault. Indeed, statistics on domestic violence and sexual assault reveal the centrality of gender in the dynamics of both forms of victimization. Our hope here at CVR is that anti-violence activists and advocates will continue to examine and expose the misconceptions that have long harmed survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Only after redefining victimization to reflect the totality of experiences with domestic violence and sexual assault can treatment and intervention offer individuals a viable option to end the violence that plagues the lives of survivors, their families, and their communities as well.

For more information on male victimization, click here to visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's website.

More information on domestic violence within the LGBTQ community can be found here.

Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Restorative Justice, Violence Intervention

RJ is on the rise: What this means for domestic violence intervention

“Restorative Justice is on the rise exponentially in the United States” asserts New York Times contributor Molly Rowan Leach. In her coverage of The National Conference on Restorative Justice, Leach writes:

As millions continue to experience and witness a collective 'justice' that is tainted by racial discrimination, by billions in profit, by the warehousing of our meek, a school-to-prison pipeline and by the practices of expecting punishment and isolation for all involved when crime occurs to actually function as rehabilitative, there is a form in the air, in the political, in the grassroots, in the hearts of the people, that offers a viable life-ring out of this deluge.

Leach's reporting on the fundamental principles of RJ and on the positive outcomes observed thus far in youth diversion programs, offers important insight into the use of RJ for other types of crimes, including domestic violence (DV).

The controversy over using RJ in DV cases is highlighted in tragic murder of Ann Grosmarie.

Following Ann’s death, her parents chose to use RJ conferencing during the sentencing phase of their daughter’s trial. Many reacted to the parent’s decision to forgive their daughter’s killer with confusion; some with anger and disgust. Writing on the case and subsequent criminal trial, Jill Filipovic of The Guardian had this to say about RJ and DV:

Restorative justice should be applied more widely and supported more broadly; and in a more evolved society, I'd love to see it applied to domestic violence. But we don't live in that society quite yet. And constructing intimate violence as something not only forgivable, but as something that should be forgiven isn't radical; it's a common belief.

Firstly, I disagree that domestic violence is widely viewed as forgivable in our society. Due in large part to the efforts of anti-violence activists, DV is no longer widely viewed as a personal problem. For example, every state in the U.S now recognizes DV as a crime in their penal codes. Many states—including New York—have mandatory arrest policies and victimless prosecution. Policies such as these have forced law enforcement officials to make an arrest when responding to a DV call and have enabled the courts to prosecute DV offenders even when the victim refuses to cooperate. In addition to specialized DV courts, domestic violence units within police departments are also common. What this suggests is that society’s views about the acceptability of DV have in fact changed. DV is not viewed as a personal matter which can be resolved through forgiveness—it is a crime against the state, punishable by jail time or mandated mental health treatment.

Secondly, restorative justice is not solely about forgiveness. It is about healing, and this process may or may not include forgiveness on the part of the victim(s). The assumption that a victim would be expected or forced to forgive their abuser is far from the truth when it comes to RJ. As Leach points out in her piece, RJ is fundamentally about accountability on the part of the offender and healing on the part of the victim. For Ann’s parents, forgiveness was in fact central to their ability to heal after their daughter’s murder. This decision though is ultimately up to those who have been harmed. Suggesting that a victim should not forgive their abuser is as contrary to feminist ideals as suggesting that they should.

Lastly, we do live in an imperfect society where violence is rampant and acceptance of DV still exists to a degree. But, survivors of DV and those who work in the field should not wait until sexism, racism, and classism no longer inform our understanding of and our responses to violence before taking action. With traditional methods of DV intervention showing mixed results with regards to recidivism (Feder & Wilson, 2005 and Babcock, Green & Robbie, 2004), it is crucial that advocates and professionals within the field of DV continue to develop new methods for combating incidents of violence. Restorative justice, while controversial to some, offers victims and their families the opportunity to heal and to end the violence which has devastated the lives of so many individuals, it empowers victims to make healthy decisions about the future of their relationships, and it holds DV offenders accountable for their actions while providing them the opportunity to change destructive patterns of behavior.

Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Uncategorized

Police Take on Family Violence to Avert Deaths

With domestic violence murders on the rise in New York City in 2011, NYPD's domestic violence unit has begun to make precautionary visits to households with a history of domestic violence incidents.

As part of their work, the officers assigned to the domestic violence unit make a total of 70,000 precautionary visits a year to the households with past episodes. Each precinct station house also maintains a “high propensity” list of a dozen or so households that get special attention because they are believed to be most at risk of further violence.

Read the full article here

Domestic Violence, DV Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence, Research, Uncategorized

New York DV stats show uptick in 2012

The Division of Criminal Justice Services reported 54,848 domestic violence victims outside New York City in 2012, up more than 1,700, or 3 percent, from the year before. The New York Police Department, using data that excludes some lower level crimes, said there were 30,428 domestic violence victims last year, an increase of about 1,500. State criminal justice officials said Wednesday that the increase in police reports about domestic assaults, sex offenses and violations of protection orders may reflect an ongoing push for victims to contact authorities.

Recently released data on incidents of domestic violence throughout New York reveal an increase in rates for the year 2012. Read the full article here for a summary of 2012's findings

Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Uncategorized

Domestic violence and the “abusive monster”/“weak woman” labels

Throughout our efforts to develop safe and effective domestic violence treatment options, the Center on Violence and Recovery has remained critical of stereotypical conceptualizations related to incidents, perpetrators, and victims of domestic abuse. In the above piece, Pop Feminist blogger Naira Ruiz addresses the harms created by such conceptualizations—namely, through the pathologizing of victims who stay in abusive relationships and the minimizing of violence which is not overt and physical.

Intimate Partner Violence, Research, Violence Intervention

Research on DV Intervention and Treatment is Desperately Needed

A recently published article in the Scientific American has revealed that increased training for doctors and other healthcare professionals is key to identifying victims of intimate partner violence. Unfortunately however, professionals often lack the tools needed to help such victims and their families end or escape the violence they are experiencing. "More than one in three women and more than one in four men fall prey to stalking, rape or other physical or psychological violence by a partner at some time in their lives. Despite these grim statistics and evidence that victims can end up suffering mental and physical health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, health professionals have yet to nail down the best way to stop the abuse—which they call “intimate partner violence”—and to care for those affected by it."

Read the full article here

Intimate Partner Violence

Rethinking IPV

Responding to the shockingly high rates of domestic violence homicides in Serbia, Saatchi & Saatchi Belgrade--a Serbian based advertising company--released the video, "One photo a day in the worst year of my life". The video is a compilation of pictures which presumably detail one woman's experience with intimate partner violence (IPV). As the video progresses, so too does the violence against her. Bruises, black eyes, and choke marks begin to appear and then heal. The final image shows the woman, badly beaten, holding up a sign that reads "Help me. I don't know if I'll make it to tomorrow". While the video does not depict an actual case of IPV (the injuries were artificially created using make-up), the images nonetheless resonated with millions who shared the video on social media, taking the opportunity to raise awareness about IPV and to share resources for survivors.

As I watched the video though, my discomfort with its message grew. While I fully support efforts to raise awareness about IPV, I am concerned that this video obscures, rather than highlights the nature of partner violence. The image of a female victim, looking self-confident one minute, fearful and beaten the next, seems to fit neatly with a stereotypical conceptualization of IPV.

To be sure, there will be some who see this video and it resonates because of personal experiences. Others will connect with the message of the video as it speaks to statistics which reveal that severe violence (being hit with a fist or something hard, slammed into something, or beaten) affects 23.4% of female IPV survivors

This portrayal however seems too simplistic. It leaves unchallenged the false assumption that victims are always women, and batterers are always men acting on their patriarchal urges to control women. It supports the idea that women who experience violence at the hands of their partners are helpless and in need of saving. In the end, it appears to support a pathological view of IPV survivors--those women who choose to stay with their abusers--as well as punitive responses by the state.

The reality of IPV is much more complicated. Partner violence can happen once or over the course of a relationship; both couples may be mutually combative or the violence may be one directional; some couples may wish to stay together while others want to end a destructive and unsafe relationship but they aren't sure how to escape. Our responses to IPV should be complex and nuanced--responsive to individual situations. In the end it's the only way to truly put an end to the violence many individuals experience in intimate relationships.