Does Mandated Domestic Violence Police Arrest Help or Hurt Domestic Abuse Families?

Over a year ago a newspaper reporter asked me this very question and I was on the fence. I thought I understood the battered women’s perspective and appreciated the police correction’s side. I truly can see this from both points of view, but today if I had to vote, I’d vote against mandated arrest.

Mandated Arrest for Domestic Violence

Mandated arrest is a law that requires law enforcement to make an arrest when specific conditions exist, which are indicative of the presence of domestic violence. The particulars differ from state to state for the states that have adopted mandated arrest for domestic abuse.

Mandated Domestic Violence Arrest and Police Corrections

The fundamental belief is that once domestic abuse leaks out to law enforcement, the victim can be manipulated or coerced into dropping charges. She is likely to be overpowered by the abuser to yield to his wishes. And in many cases this is exactly what happens. It happened to me 18 years ago.

In my particular case, mandated arrest could have helped my children and me. This is clear to me now. However, this is not always the case for domestic violence families.

Mandated Arrest and Battered Women

Individuals in the domestic abuse shelter communities are strongly opposed to mandated arrest because it takes the ultimate decision of proceeding with charges out of the victim’s hands. Essentially this gives her no say at a time when her vision embraces more of the whole family circumstance than that of anyone else.

In many respects it robs her of her basic human rights to make her own decisions regarding her welfare. It declares her momentarily incompetent to make this family abuse milestone decision. The reason I was on the fence over this debate is because I knew this “state of incompetence.” It is very real in cases of true unidirectional intimate partner violence.

However, most cases of domestic abuse are not so clear-cut. And when that is the situation, basic rights are infringed upon. Many people liken it to laws prohibiting abortion in that the woman is denied “her choice,” in a situation regarding her body… and her family. Mandated arrest for domestic abuse is seen as further victimizing the survivor… dis-empowering her, even more.

The Downside of Mandated Arrest

I have seen far too many cases when mandated arrest brought irreparable destruction to families that needed psychological care over corrections. One such case resulted in the perpetrator’s suicide and another in exacerbated psychopathology with severe implications for innocent minor children.

If you are “considering” going to the police, it will be in your interest to understand the specific implications of doing so. Know the laws in your state and the consequences of these statutes.

The keyword-operative word-here is “considering.” This word must be distinguished from a reflex urgent 911 call. You will want to call for immediate police help if you are in imminent danger. On the other hand, if you are reflecting on a domestic abuse altercation weeks on end after the fact, consider with full consideration, competency and care.

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Domestic Violence Rears Its Ugly Head

Domestic violence and domestic abuse assault are alive and well in the United States. From the time that we first wrote about this issue over eight years ago the only thing that has changed is that it appears that law enforcement officials are more aggressively pursuing domestic violence complaints. After all, they are a felony.

From a recent article about domestic violence comes this quote:

“Silence is part of the problem. Time and again it’s been shown that the secrecy shrouding domestic violence can allow it to escalate to more severe physical confrontations and tragic consequences. Silence also bolsters society’s illusion that domestic violence is not a more significant social problem, further isolating victims and abusers from getting help.”

If you think you’re doing your intimate partner a favor by keeping quiet about his assaults on you, you’re not. If you feel it’s too embarrassing to talk to a friend and help them in a domestic abuse assault situation, you’re not doing them any favors either.

Silence is not golden-especially in a domestic violence situation.

One out of every four women in the United States experiences intimate partner violence and this is not just limited to adult women. One in three high school age girls experiences violence in a dating relationship.

The percentage of women under the age of 18 who are raped by a family member is an absolutely disgusting 34%, and women who are homeless or have disabilities are especially vulnerable with their percentages over 50% likely that they will be the targets of domestic abuse assault.

The percentage of teen rape and abuse victims who report their assailant as an intimate partner is 76%.

Especially since law enforcement is taking these complaints more seriously, the chances of getting help from the law enforcement community is greatly increased. It used to be as recently as five or 10 years ago that domestic abuse or domestic violence complaints were given a wink and a nod by law enforcement-they just weren’t taken seriously. But thankfully those days appear to be over.

Women who are in a domestic abuse situation should not only arm themselves with a self-defense product like a stun gun or pepper spray, but they should seriously develop an escape plan.

A self-defense product can provide you precious minutes of relief in an assault so you can seek help. An escape plan would entail trusting a friend, neighbor or relative to harbor you in an emergency. You don’t want to leave your future in the hands of a shelter that may or may not be able to admit you.

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Ask A Domestic Violence Lawyer: Taking Time Off Work

For those who are victims of abuse from an intimate partner, the right to take time off from work is provided under federal law. In some situations, state laws may also provide extended leave for employees who are injured due to abuse. It is best to consult a domestic violence lawyer if the workplace does not comply with laws provided.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can be defined as the mental or physical abuse inflicted by a partner. It can often deter the victim from going to work, whether it is for the purpose of obtaining medical assistance or to move to a safer location. Time off may also be required if one person damages or sabotages the others ability to get to work, such as vehicular damage or withholding access to cash.

Because of the increased amount of time away from work that is required to deal with these situations, many states have chosen to adopt domestic violence leave laws that provides time off for victims. In addition to utilizing the Family Medical Leave Act, which provides up to 12 weeks off per year to handle personal or family medical ordeals, these specialized laws permit victims to take time off to attend court proceedings.

Statewide Domestic Violence Leave Laws

The states that currently have these laws in place are very similar in what they cover, but there are variations.

For instance, some may vary in the length of time they offer. Some states provide a set amount of days off while others simply stipulate that a “reasonable amount of time” away is adequate. Other states only require that an employee not be fired due to absence stemming from a domestic abuse incident.

The stated reason for being away is also a consideration that varies. The list of covered activities is different, but may include all or some of the following: seeking mental or emotional counseling, seeking a domestic violence lawyer, going to court, or seeking a restraining order.

In addition, each state has different requirements for the application process. Some employers may need significant notice and extensive paperwork. However, there are typically stipulations in place for emergencies when notice is not an option. Other areas may require written proof for being absent.

The issue of paid days off will also depend on your location. No state requires employers to pay employees for time off. Employees may be able to use accrued hours from vacation or sick days before taking leave.

When dealing with abuse situations, it is crucial to work closely with a domestic violence lawyer to ensure total safety from an aggressor. They can also advise when a victim may need to take time off to deal with all that is necessary in these cases.