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“”It's just so stupid, isn't it? "Beating your wife" — I mean it's your wife. It's like keying your own car!
Domestic violence refers to acts of violence conducted by one member of a household against another, in most of the cases that are reported to police, a man attacking a woman. Although incidences of domestic violence have been reported in every ethnic group, age, and income bracket, domestic violence is most common in poorer families, or people with a history of violence.
Domestic violence with the woman attacking is just as likely as domestic violence against men in the UK, but suffers from less of a social stigma.
Conceptions of domestic violence
Too often, domestic violence is trivialized by police and society as being merely a "domestic issue," not requiring policing by the state. Usually, police will not get directly involved with domestic issues unless specifically one partner reports the incident, this making it a legal rather than domestic matter — cases of gung-ho cops fighting for women, as portrayed in LA Confidential for example, are quite rare, and often illegal and beyond the jurisdiction of police anyway. Such an attitude is not helpful, as it fails to recognize the level of hurt and suffering as well as often the financial and social inability of the abused partner to leave an abusive relationship.
Some jurisdictions have instituted "no-drop" policies requiring prosecution even if the victim is unwilling to testify. Although this has resulted in more convictions, it is unclear whether this makes victims safer, since they may be less likely to call the police in the first place if they think they will not have the option of getting the case dropped later. In addition, in some cases, an apparent domestic violence incident turns out to be something entirely different; removing all prosecutorial discretion makes it impossible to dismiss these cases, leading to convictions and guilty pleas on ridiculously spurious grounds.
Some cultures and religions, including (historically) Christianity and Islam, have permitted men to "discipline" their wives to a certain extent, due to the vows of obedience made by wives to their husbands. Most often the holy texts that endorse such a thing are merely interpreted to mean that the man is the "head" of the house (more liberal interpretations take these more figuratively or ignore them entirely), but some extremes do interpret this to include physical discipline. These interpretations and the manifestation of them as abuse are almost exclusively a form of fundamentalism.
Radical feminists, following their general pattern, do not view domestic violence as an individual act of violence, but as a manifestation of patriarchy — i.e., a class action by which the male gender holds the female gender in place.[note 1]
Consequently, radical feminists take a particular interest in domestic violence, and were heavily involved in starting the women's shelter movement, to provide support to women fleeing violent relationships. Unfortunately, at times they have been decidedly less than willing to acknowledge female perpetrators of domestic violence, for reasons they never get around to explaining; thankfully, though they make a lot of noise, they remain a minority.
Violence against police
When police are called to a domestic disturbance, their lives are the most at risk. The alleged suspect or victim may attack the police, usually at the prospect of an unfavorable legal action being taken like an arrest. Police tactics in securing a reported domestic disturbance are frequently shown on the Cops television show.
A number of competing models have been set up for court-ordered domestic violence treatment programs (aka behavioral intervention programs, or batterer intervention programs, or BIPs). The most famous model, the Duluth model, was based on a radical feminist conception of all domestic violence as being a form of misogynistic coercive control by men. Some studies have suggested that the Duluth model is ineffective, but the Duluth model's advocates claim that the reason it hasn't worked everywhere is that its principles (such as coordinated community response and immediately returning offenders to prison for the slightest violation of the program's requirements) haven't been fully applied.
- Jimmy Carr talks about wife beating on QI, weasalfarmer on YouTube.
- American Bar Association - Domestic abuse statistics: "Studies consistently show that at least 50 to 60 percent of women receiving public benefits have experienced physical abuse by an intimate partner at some point during their adult lives, compared to 22 percent of the general population."
- Catriona Mirrless-Black, Domestic Violence: Findings From a New British Crime Survey Self-Completion Questionnaire. United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, 1999.
- Robert C. Davis, Barbara E. Smith, and Heather J. Davies, Effects of No-Drop Prosecution of Domestic Violence Upon Conviction Rates. United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, 2001.
- Cathy Young, Domestic Violations. Reason, February 1998.
- Christian Domestic Discipline
- Craig W. Floyd, Domestic disturbance calls: Always dangerous and sometimes deadly. policeone.com, 30 November 2007.
- By Michael Paymar and Graham Barnes, Countering Confusion about the Duluth Model. theduluthmodel.org.