Domestic violence is an issue that takes place far too often around us. It consists of spousal abuse, parent and child abuse, and abuse to elders. Retributive justice consists of knowingly violating the rights of others, but having the punishment of doing so fit the crime that was committed. With that being said, domestic abusers are often not convicted for those crimes. In fact, only about thirty percent of those arrested for domestic abuse are convicted and sentenced to jail time (McElroy, 2010). In addition to retributive justice, domestic violence goes against the idea of virtue ethics that Aristotle founded. Virtue ethics has been defined as acting according to morals. When an individual abuses someone else that they claim to love or care for, these morals are no longer in tact. The legalistic definition of crime is committing actions that violate the law. Domestic violence is evil and technically prohibited by law as well which makes it an act against mala in se law and mala prohibita law.
With all of these factors taken into consideration, it is obvious how domestic violence is an injustice, but even still, people are not punished to the extent that it should be. People get away with these crimes and less than half are convicted or found guilty. Domestic violence can either be considered a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the seriousness of the situation and the state the crime is committed in. However, each incidence of domestic violence is just as serious as the other and all citizens who abuse this law should be convicted and incarcerated.
It is clear to see how evident and prolific this problem is. There are a number of outlets available to victims, but the need far outweighs the resources. A major component for why victims do not leave their abusers, especially in intimate partner domestic violence, is due to fear of retaliation (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence). A study by the National Institute of Justice on intimate partner domestic violence found that of the abusers interviewed, a significant amount of them acknowledged that the victim threatening to leave the abuser lead to the murder of the victim (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). While there are legal means currently in place that attempts to protect the victims, they are not adequate (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).
Due to this, the government has a responsibility to step up and offer more support to victims through safehomes. These safehomes would be structures similar to the witness protection program, but be specifically be for victims of domestic violence that have fled from their abuser and are awaiting trial. These safehomes would actually have protection near and around so that the victims do not need to fear retaliation. Security guards, increased police surveillance, and security cameras would deter the accused abuser from coming near the victim. The social workers and law enforcement would ensure that they are being cared and offered resources to be more financially independent and start their new life no longer dependent on their abuser. This program would allow the victims to feel safe and secure as they leave their abuser and start anew.
Domestic violence between significant others in today's society has dramatically inclined throughout the years. One in four women and one in nine men experience violence in their relationship (National Statistics About Domestic Violence). These statistics are eye opening when thinking about how many people around us are affected by this horrible action. Domestic violence is a recurring action in the court that gets handled differently every time. There have been several instances where an abuser was convicted with assault and battery on their significant other, yet their punishment has been a fine or up to 5 years in jail (Hankerson, 2019). In 2017, more than 23,000 arrests were made for assault and battery, and only 22% of those arrests were convicted (Hankerson, 2019). These statistics go to show that something needs to change with today’s court system.
It is hard to establish what a justified solution would be, due to the amount of setbacks there is with this topic. Meaning, conviction all depends on the judge and or evidence they have towards the abuser. It can also depend on the victim as well. It is hard enough for the victim to make the call to law enforcement due to the threats the abuser make, so it all depends if the victim feels comfortable testifying against them. Regarding that situation, one solution would be to increase the sentencing, so that the victim does not have to worry about what might happen to them when the abuser returns after doing their time. The idea of maximizing conviction is not only a consequence of the abuser but in a way it can also protect the victim. Later on down the road, this could help many victims openly testify against their abuser.
Another potential way of going about reducing domestic violence in the United States would be to consider altering the way court systems go about handling domestic violence cases. Often times in divorce hearings there will be domestic violence allegations included in the case. However, even though the events that took place in the relationship are the reason for the divorce, historically the judicial system tends to prefer handling the matters using separate judges and in select cases different courthouses. This particular strategy for solving the problems at hand causes emotional stress on the victims and could potentially lead to the judges not having all the events that took place or information needed to make an appropriate sentencing.
The party considered the victim in these cases often have been through copious amounts of stress and anguish. In cases such as these, having to relive the events that have taken place by telling their stories repeatedly to different judges and figures involved in the court's decision making process often has a negative impact on the victim’s mental health. However there is also the issue of family courts historically not handling domestic violence well. In most cases the rulings try to ensure the children involved are still able to maintain a close relationship with both parents even if one is abuser. The parent pressing the charges requested the children to have no interaction with the party at fault and will refuse to settle for anything less. The courts will try to mediate the existing problems via mental health professional who more times than not will have minimum domestic training. The counselors are taught to treat the problems in the relationship as mutual making the victim gain the wrong mindset that he or she is a part of the reason why the abuser does what he or she does. This is an unjust form of mending domestic violence problems and will not allow the victim to be truly content with the outcome of the case.
Obviously, at first glance, each of our proposed solutions to the issue of domestic violence seem logical and implementable. However, like all ideas, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses that allow for an easier or harder way to bring about change.
The first proposed solution was for the government to implement a greater number of safe houses and protection programs for victims of domestic violence. One of the strengths of this solution is that if victims feel as if they have a safe place to go where they can be protected and hidden from their abuser, they are more likely to report their abuser to the law. One of the weaknesses of this argument is that the government also has to provide safe houses and protection programs for others around the world. They can not implement more houses for domestic abuse victims without also implementing more houses for others who need protection as well.
The second proposed solution was for the government to increase the length of sentencing of those who are committed on a domestic abuse offense. The strength of this argument is that if victims of domestic abuse know that their abuser could be put in jail for a longer time, they will be more willing to report their abuser to the law because they know that their abuser would be locked up for a long time and would not be able to retaliate against them. The weakness of this argument is that jails are already too overcrowded. They do not have the capacity to keep domestic abusers in jail for longer amounts of time if it means that those who were found guilty of more serious crimes are not able to be put in jail cells. It would be far harder to implement the solution based on this one weakness.
The third proposed solution was for the court system to alter the ways in which they go about hearing domestic violence cases. A major strength of this solution is that victims would have to go through a less grueling court case, which helps with their levels of anxiety and shame about the situation. If victims know that the process will be less taxing on them, they would be more willing to report their abuser to the law. One major weakness of this solution is the time that it would take for court systems to debate over new ways to handle these types of court cases and then implement them into effect. This process would take far too long to reach agreements and then to put their ideas into practice.
Domestic violence, sadly enough, is one of the most widely experienced injustices in our country today. Far too many individuals have to experience this trauma from their abuser each and every single day. Our proposed solutions to this injustice attempt to find ways that can best help these victims. While there are strengths and weaknesses to all ideas, we believe that we have discovered some of the best ways to handle the problem at hand.