Do People Who Experience Domestic Violence Get The Help And Justice They Deserve?

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Domestic violence can affect women both physically and mentally as well as their sexual health. According to findings by the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, between 2010 and 2014, 20 of the 91 calls for service, or 22 percent, that resulted in an officer fatality were classified as a domestic dispute (Smith 2017). Domestic abuse cases can be incredibly dangerous for the victim, family, and the officers called to the situation. Many victims do not report domestic abuse situations for many reasons. However, many victims report the situation but return back to that toxic environment. People may judge the victim as to why they would put themselves and their family at risk again. There are many reasons they return such as love, family, financial help, or even because they never received the help they needed.

Victims stay in abusive relationships for reasons such as love, financial support, fear, low self-esteem, and even just thinking that the abuse is normal. Leaving can sometimes be dangerous for the victim because of threats from the perpetrator which can put the victim into even more danger. In 2010, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that “more than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) … in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” Women are considered weak and vulnerable, so they are easy targets. There are many women who do not report their abuse because they believe it may be normal or because they do not believe it should be something that should be reported. When called to a situation that involves domestic abuse, officers are obliged to report the allegations of domestic abuse and investigate whether there is probable cause to arrest the alleged abuser. This can be incredibly dangerous because you may not always see the abuse and because of this, officers may walk away from a life-threatening situation for the victim. The murder of Gabriel Fernandez is a great example of this. Gabriel Fernandez is an 8-year-old boy from California. He was brutally abused by his mother and his stepfather. Social workers as well as police officers were constantly called to his home for visitations and check ups when he would show up to school with bruises and black eyes. They had reported nothing that was happening in his home. He was tragically murdered by his stepfather and the charges against the social workers and officers were dropped. The officers and social workers had not investigated properly and reported the abuse that was going on and this had led to the death of this innocent 8-year-old boy. “One deputy went to the boy’s Palmdale home after his teacher said he had been beaten with a belt. Another deputy, responding to a report that Gabriel was suicidal, left the home without examining or interviewing him” (Los Angeles Times 2017). The officers that were assigned to check up on Gabriel had not even interviewed him. Gabriel did not receive the justice he deserved because all the charges were dropped.

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According to the IACP Law Enforcement Policy Center, “If the victim decides to call law enforcement, resources and supportive services may be acquired, a protective order may be obtained, and the victim may decide to leave the perpetrator, thereby ending the current attack. But by doing so, retribution may result—the violence may escalate; the perpetrator may threaten to take away or harm children, other family or friends, or pets; or the perpetrator may threaten to kill the victim or themselves.” Domestic abuse situations are extremely difficult because the victim is in a situation where they believe they must choose between saving their own life or their loved ones. Leaving the perpetrator is not easy for anyone. It can result in harm or death to anyone involved in the situation. “under no circumstances should officers compromise their response to any incident, or any victim based on personal judgments or frustrations. Throughout the entire response and investigation, officers should never make any statement that would discourage a victim from reporting an act of domestic violence; threaten, suggest, or otherwise indicate the possible arrest of all parties to discourage future requests for intervention by law enforcement personnel; or avoid taking action because the victim stated that prosecution was not desired” (Law Enforcement Policy Center). Officers are given the order to respond to every incident and investigate the situation. They should never discourage future calls of domestic violence even if it were to happen in the same home repeatedly. However, it is reported that one of their greatest frustrations is receiving domestic abuse calls. “Their responses indicated that the officers were most frustrated by the behaviors of victims, the operation of the criminal courts, their department's operations and informal policies, and the complexities of applying the law” (Johnson 2004). This indicates that although officers are told to take each situation seriously, it can be incredibly frustrating when the victim does not follow through with the officer’s advice or policies given by the court.

“The Violence against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 helped pave domestic violence concerns into legislative matters” (Domestic Violence Research Topics). This Act was a federal law that provided 1.6 billion dollars toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women. This law was placed because states were failing to address the issues that came with domestic violence. It was believed that woman was to follow orders from a man and if there were to be issues it should stay within the household. When domestic violence was to be reported, little to no punishment was given to the perpetrator. “VAWA requires a coordinated community response (CCR) to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, encouraging jurisdictions to bring together players from diverse backgrounds to share information and use their distinct roles to improve community responses to violence against women”(Legal Momentum). This encouraged women to report their abusers because they understand that they are not alone in these situations as well as know that when they do report the abuser, action will take place to protect them from that abuse again. One way VAWA has helped battered women is by offering housing to those who are encouraged to leave the abusive environment. Before leaving, they often wonder where they are going to go and who is going to help them. Also, to further help they offer legal help as well as mental health and substance abuse services. “The effectiveness of the justice system is often measured using arrest and conviction rates. But arrests and convictions reveal little about what the justice system actually does in response to domestic and sexual violence, and they do not account for the experiences victims have when they report the crimes they have suffered”( The Violence Against Women Act helped women take legal action against their abuser especially when they do not feel safe confronting their abuser in court or if they do not have legal paperwork to be in the country. Their main objective is to make sure that when a victim does decide to leave their abuser, the victim understands that although it may be incredibly scary and risky, there are people who are there to help you and your loved ones.

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Do People Who Experience Domestic Violence Get The Help And Justice They Deserve? (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“Do People Who Experience Domestic Violence Get The Help And Justice They Deserve?” Edubirdie, 08 Jul. 2022,
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