Hit me again, Ike... Jimmy is eight; Katie is five; and little Ashley is only three. Raised by their parents, Mark and Susan, everyone sees them as the perfect family. Mark is a stockbroker, Jimmy's football coach, and Katie's tee ball coach. Susan works in the home, where she is everyday when the kids get home from school.
She attends every PTA meeting, and works in the school cafeteria once a week. They appear to be the perfect family. Under that facade, a deadly storm brews. No one sees the black and blue bruises Susan hides, or the numerous broken fingers and ribs she has had. Not all violence leaves marks, either.
No one hears the nasty, hurtful words Mark calls her, or the tears of pain she cries each night. This is just one of many examples of domestic violence. Either physical, sexually, emotionally, or psychologically, abuse comes in all forms. ." ... [A]t least one in every three women had been beaten...
or otherwise abused during her lifetime." (Family Violence Prevention Fund 1). Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, can be defined as knowingly cause, attempt to cause, or threaten to cause harm or force to someone who is living within the same household and has an emotional relationship (i. e. Parent, child, spouse) or are pragmatically living together. (Bohm 249) Domestic violence can affect more than just the victim and the batterer. Children who grow up in families where violence occurs are more likely to demonstrate violence themselves or withdraw, having seen "daddy hit mommy." Women who are battered tend to be emotional and have an increased chance of being depressed, anxious, or suicidal.
Men, most commonly the abuser, often demonstrate jealousy, hypersensitivity, and threat of violence. Until recently, officers suspecting domestic violence had to have concrete proof and probable cause. Now, officers can arrest anyone they suspect of domestic violence, with or without the victim's consent. This is called a preferred arrest policy.
In 2003, 25, 926 arrests for domestic violence were made. (ODIN 1). "Intimate partner violence made up 20% of all nonfatal violent crime experienced by women in 2001." (DOJ 1). The increased incidences of domestic violence can be curtailed through three changes: harsher laws, reduced societal acceptance and more advocacy and awareness. The most obvious way to reduce domestic violence is with harsher laws. Currently the law states that a person can not "knowingly cause or attempt to cause harm to a family or household member", "recklessly cause serious physical harm to family or household member", or via "threat of force...
knowingly cause a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm" (Ohio Revised Code Sec. 2919. 25-2919. 27).
The punishment for a violation of domestic violence would depend on which branch of the domestic violence law the offender broke. Most of the time, the officers will charger the offender with the most serious crime, often assault (possibly felonious) but with a domestic violence tag. The first offense can range from a first to a fifth degree misdemeanor and at worst, a fifth degree felony. Repeat offenses, while depending on the branch of domestic violence law that was broken, most likely result in a felony conviction. Few punishments exist for domestic violence offenders. Someone with a domestic violence conviction cannot own or carry a firearm.
In addition to a nasty nickname, offenders must often seek anger management counseling and must abide by any temporary or civil protection orders. The law itself cannot be more stringent than it is already. However, the punishments could be more severe and used as a deterrent for offenders. First, longer jail times would be more effective. Rather than getting put on probation, offenders should be sentenced to time in jail.
Also, offenders should be mandated to receive more counseling, anger management classes and community service in places where they can see what kind of fear them instill, like women's shelter or state houses for children. In addition, the first conviction of domestic violence, whether convicted of domestic violence or a charge with a domestic violence tag, should be a felony. Rather than treat an abuser with kid gloves, he should be hit hard with punishments the first time around to prevent him from performing those acts again. With stricter punishments, the incidences of domestic violence can be reduced. Another way to fight domestic violence is to reduce society's acceptance of this violence. Just about any rap, rock, or alternative song on the radio has a small mention of a guy beating his wife, or as a child the artist saw his mother being beaten by his father figure, or the artist himself beating his girlfriend because she was defiant.
Rather than shun these artists and refuse to buy their music or listen to their songs, consumers pay exorbitant fees for the artist's merchandise and wait expectantly by the television for a glimpse of their "hero" on Total Request Live on MTV. For example, "Stan" by Eminem talks about a man who ties up his pregnant girlfriend, forces her into the trunk of his car, knocks her around a little and then drives his car off the side of a cliff (Eminem 1). And how consumers reward this terrible sentiment? Consumers buy Eminem's records up, making them go double and triple platinum, making Eminem even more money, in essence advocating the abuse of women. Aside from music, television and movies are filled with images of battered woman and men hitting women, that as a society, we have begun to find it commonplace. Having been barraged by these images, society is desensitized to the battered woman, and thinks nothing of seeing her and hearing her plight. Television dramas make light her situation, and prove that her situation can be resolved in a fifty minute time period.
Perhaps instead of glorifying these shows, we could not watch them, boycott the shows, and write letters to the station and network showing our disapproval. By refusing to entertain these forms of media, they will be forced to stop airing these programs. By ending these programs, people will learn that domestic violence is not okay and must be treated seriously. Lastly, the news programs must be revived from programs that focus on sensationalism to realism. Instead of the networks competing with each other for the best, the most graphic, most violent story they could air, they should focus on the ones that will affect other's lives more.
This would include incidents of domestic abuse. Always quick to point the finger at the politician or judge that beats his wife, why not make public the fact that next door neighbor beats his wife, or the PTA dad has a dark side. The TV networks don't want to air this kind of material because they believe viewers don't want to see it. In reality, if viewers were more informed on such issues and once again, the batterers were made to pay more, domestic violence could be decreased. Most importantly, more advocacy and awareness of shelters could help fight domestic violence. Nearly one million women are made to be victims each year.
(Bohn 249). More programs need to be established that can inform, shelter, and protect women from their batterers. Most major cities have a couple programs at most, but that fails to recognize the little towns and suburbs that cannot support its abused women. More funding, federal, state and local, could increase the number of shelters and the availability of women to get to those shelters. Also, shelters need to be made more like a home away from home for these ladies fighting for their life. Instead of a sterile, hospital type building, it should be a comfortable one, with lots of "homey" type items.
These women are running from their lives. They need some place where they not only feel safe, but also comfortable and at home. In addition, women need to be informed of these shelters. They need to be taught early in life that being hit is not okay and they need to escape that situation, if they can.
Programs in high school or even junior high could be offered that gave girls information on dating violence and domestic abuse. It should be emphasized to them that they have other choices and they do not have to be powerless if they chose not to be. Local libraries, grocery stores, and gas stations could offer information on abuse shelters and numbers women could call for counseling. Getting the word out to women, making them know that they have other options, and keeping women safe would inhibit the increase of domestic violence. There are many ways to diminish the incidences of domestic violence, including: harsher laws, reduced acceptance, and more awareness and advocacies of programs. Domestic violence is common, more so that most like to think.
While we can't get inside the heads of the batters and change them, we can help those women who are affected and punish their abusers. In this time it has taken to read this, nearly 2, 700 women have been beaten in the United States, averaging one woman per every nine seconds. (A IDV 1). As corny as it sounds, it's true: together we can make a difference in someone's life. Works Cited Get the Facts. 2005.
Family Violence Prevention Fund. 15 Feb. 2005 web Robert M. and Keith N. Haley. Introduction to Criminal Justice.
New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1997." Ohio DV Stats Sheet." Ohio Domestic Violence Network. 15 Feb. 2005 web Callie Marie, Ph. D. Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001. 2003.
15 Feb. 2005 web "Stan." Marshall Mathers. Shady Records, 2000. Domestic Violence Statistics, Crime Statistics, Work Place Statistics. 2001. American Institute on Domestic Violence.
15 Feb. 2005.