Relationship between Police and Involvement and Domestic Violence
Literature has suggested that domestic violence reporting and victims of domestic violence, are issues that have very little research. On top of this, the research that has been conducted is not as accurate because the definition of domestic violence has been generalized. This means that research of domestic violence could include anything from fighting with friends, to abuse within intimate partner relationships, abuse against women, and family violence. Within the relationships alone, definitions can also differ. For example, studies can define family violence as a male and female with kids, and not include those who are homosexual or transgender who have adopted. Studies also, have often forgotten to include violence against men within domestic violence research (Buzawa, 2003).
As for research including the relationship between police involvement and domestic violence, there has also been little research. There has been a lack of research regarding the frequency of those who do call the police, and reasons as to not calling the police (Fleury, Sullivan, Bybee, & Davidson, 1998). Although there has been very little research, the studies that have researched the issue have discovered that women often do not reach out to police due to situation barriers. Barriers would include anything from not being allowed to use a phone, to threats of additional violence if the police are called (Fleury, Sullivan, Bybee, & Davidson, 1998). In a study conducted by Fleury, Sullivan, Bybee, & Davidson, it was found that only 3% of women from their sample size decided to not call the police due to the feeling of shame, as well as having love for their abuser (1998). Research has also indicated that police behavior during an earlier domestic violence encounter impacts the likelihood of whether or not the victim would report an additional incident (Hickman, 2003). Bad experiences with police involvement lead to negative expectations about future interactions, and prevent a victim from seeking help through the police. Other reasons domestic violence victims choose to not contact law enforcement include the time span of the abuse, the victim’s level of education, and the way the victim processes the violence (Coulter, Kuehnle, Byers, & Alfonso, 1999). There have times where women needed the police but refused to contact them because they believed the violence they were enduring was not severe enough to call for help. However, from their perspective they may have found their abuse to be mild because they may have been accustomed to it already. This does not mean that their abuse was not severe enough to avoid calling for help (Fleury, Sullivan, Bybee, Davison II ).
Within the past 30 years, many changes have been made to combat domestic violence between all types of relationships. In the past, police were trained to not mediate or intervene with domestic violence issues. However, over the years victims have voiced their outrage with the lack of response from police officers and demanded a change. There are now mandatory arrest laws which instructs the officer responding to the scene to make an arrest if they find probable cause suggesting an offense was committed (Buzawa, Pattavina, & Faggiani, 2007). Arguments have been made regarding mandatory arrest laws because many officers believe that the laws prevent them from using their discretion. Others believed that mandatory arrests were the best option in order to help reduce recidivism (Sherman, 1993). Lastly, women have reported that mandatory arrests have not always been beneficial because at times it could lead to dual arrests. Dual arrests are situations where the police must arrest both parties involved in the domestic violence incident for offenses that were committed towards each other (Buzawa, Pattavina, & Faggiani, 2007). Women have felt that in times they were acting in self-defense, and should not have been arrested. Other victims experienced being falsely accused, and their abuser harmed themselves in order for them to be arrested (Leisenring, 2011). Victims who had been arrested before were less likely to call the police for help in the future (Abel and Suh, 19787).
In a study conducted by Leisenring, she observes that women who reported to the police had intentions of having their abuser arrested. She interviewed victims who called the police on their abuser. Many of the victims felt that their presence, and the way they described the incident to the officers was not always in their favor (2011). They found that police did not find them credible, and would ask their abuser So what is your side of the story? . Victims felt invalidated and were less inclined to continue calling the police in other occurrences because they felt that the police would not believe their story. (Leisenring, 2011). In the study titled Why Don’t They Just Call the Cops, it was also found that victims refrained from seeking help from law enforcement because they blamed themselves for the violence. Victims also felt that if their assailant was not present during the time of the phone call, the police would not be helpful to them (Fleury, Sullivan, Bybee, Davison II ). Victims have also argued that an arrest alone would not deter their abuser. They believe that because the arrest is not attached with a sentence to jail, the arrest is not effective. Additionally, those who have made efforts to contact the police discussed that they were not satisfied with their experience. They believed that the police had done nothing to benefit them, and found their assistance to no longer be needed (Fleury, Sullivan, Bybee, Davison II ).