Legislation and Support Services

Parallel to the women's movement in the 1970s, Americans began to demand tougher legislation and greater police intervention in cases of domestic violence. Since then, laws have been passed that allow police to make arrests without a warrant when probable cause is evident, require police to inform victims of their rights and provide assistance, and require mandatory arrests of offenders under certain conditions. Additional legislation allows victims to receive financial compensation for attacks, prohibits stalking, and also provides for easier prosecution of rape of a spouse (Flowers 2000).

Not only have laws been enacted to arrest and prosecute violent partners, but services for victims have also arisen in response to public concern. Victims of abuse may receive support through social service agencies that assist them in accessing medical care and mental health services. Shelters are available that allow victims to stay temporarily in a safe environment while they recover from abuse and search for new living arrangements. Some shelters have also extended their services to include counseling and educational programs for clients. In addition, victims may access hot lines manned by crisis counselors who can offer advice to the individual about the abusive situation and provide referrals to other support agencies. Attendance to victim support groups and meetings with clergy members also provide individuals with opportunities to analyze their current situation and examine means of escaping the abuse.

Although support services for victims have increased and tougher legislation against violent offenders has been enacted, domestic violence remains a significant problem in society. It affects not only the victims of the violence, but also the children who witness it and the community that must decide if and how to intervene. Determining the cause of domestic violence is complex, thereby making it difficult to find viable solutions. Nevertheless, the struggle continues to control and prevent a serious problem that pervades all levels of U.S. society.



Buzawa, Eve S., and Carl G. Buzawa. Domestic Violence: The Criminal Justice Response, 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Uniform Crime Report, 1999. Washington, DC, 2001. Available from http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ 99cius.htm; INTERNET. Flowers, Ronald Barri. Domestic Crimes, Family Violence, and Child Abuse: A Study of Contemporary American Society. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2000. Gordon, Judith S. Helping Survivors of Domestic Violence: The Effectiveness of Medical, Mental Health, and Community Services. New York: Garland, 1998.

Kakar, Suman. Domestic Abuse: Public Policy/Criminal Justice Approaches towards Child, Spousal, and Elderly Abuse. San Francisco: Austin and Winfield, 1998.

Kashani, Javad H., and Wesley D. Allan. The Impact of Family Violence on Children and Adolescents. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1998.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ''Administration for Children and Families Press Room Fact Sheet: Domestic Violence.'' Washington, DC, 2001. Available from http:// www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/opa/facts/domsvio.htm; INTERNET.

U.S. Department ofJustice. ''Bureau ofJustice Statistics Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence.'' Washington, DC, 2000. Available from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/ipv.htm; INTERNET.

Walker, Lenore E. The Battered Woman. New York: Harper and Row, 1979.

Tracey R. Bainter

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