Sample Criminal Justice Paper on Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence


Statistics on domestic violence among womenfolk paint a grim picture on the situation of women in the society. Domestic violence is among the most common types of atrocities against women and a major public health problem affecting women across all races and walks of life (Klap et al., 2007; Bent-Goodley, 2004). The vulnerability of women to cases of domestic violence is particularly aggravated by their financial and education status, while some form of disability put them at even higher risk of being victims owning to their social isolation, dependence (economic and socially) and poverty (Healey, Humphreys & Howe, 2013). As a pattern of abusive behavior, domestic violence encompasses physical, emotional, psychological, sexual and economic abuse in which the perpetrator attempts to gain control over the other through physical or emotional coercion. The encapsulation of domestic violence therefore takes different dimensions, and although women are traditionally the main victims, men are also increasingly becoming victims of domestic violence. While much has been done in the prevention, mitigation and reporting of domestic violence, as well as incarceration of the perpetrators, cases of domestic violence are still rife and more needs to be done to prevent further harm of the women folk, and in rare cases, men who suffer domestic violence.

According to statistics, about 5.3 million domestic violence incidences occur every year in the United States (Klap et al., 2007). The bulk (more than 80 percent) of the incidences involves women as recipients of the abuse. The figures presented herein are only of the reported cases, either at the hospitals or at police stations, and in essence leave out unreported cases, which are estimated to be nearly as much or more than the reported cases. For the reported cases, the economic consequences that follow such incidences in medical and mental health treatment are estimated to cost $4.1 billion annually. Additionally, these cases are directly and indirectly responsible for physical and mental health problems among women, cases that are repeatedly encountered in healthcare settings, and are associated with increased utilization of health services (Klap et al., 2006). The gravity of domestic violence and its pressure on the health care system is distinctively visible given that cases of domestic violence victims in health care facilities are “at least as common as breast cancer and more common than thyroid problems, hyper-tension, and colon cancer, conditions for which primary care physicians routinely screen” (Klap et al., 2007, p. 579).

The risks posed by domestic violence transcend the social fabric and the healthcare system to the individuals themselves. Indeed, the repercussions of domestic violence begin with the individual before spilling out to the health system and the society. Mental health issues such as posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety attacks and suicidal thoughts are just but part of the wider risks that women face with domestic violence (Bent-Goodley, 2004). Physical consequences of domestic violence are even more pronounced to include rape, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, suicide attempts and homicides (Bent-Goodley, 2004). Even more is that apart from the large number of women seeking medical attention after incidences of abuse, domestic violence is responsible for a large number of injuries among women, far more than cancer deaths, muggings and car accidents put together (Bent-Goodley, 2004). Even more shocking is the fact that one of four women loses their lives annually from domestic violence (Bent-Goodley, 2004).

The gravity of domestic violence is even more visible through specific statistics of the domestic violence victims. For those going for emergency room visits, their partners have injured 37 percent of women seeking such services. This spills over to an estimated 28 percent of females attending primary care clinics, and another 17 percent attending prenatal clinic (Bent-Goodley, 2004). According to Peters et al. (2002), out of two victims of domestic violence, one receives physical injuries, out of which only 40 percent seek medical treatment for the injuries. Such data goes on to attest to the fact that not all cases of domestic violence are reported, not all women (and men) who are domestic violence victims seek medical attention, and conclusively, the statistics on domestic violence only provide an estimate of the cases of domestic violence from the reported cases. That said the magnitude of domestic violence is distinct within the society. Thus, while the bulk of the domestic violence cases involve nonfatal injuries, domestic violence is indeed a significant antecedent to numerous homicides (Peters et al., 2002). An estimated 48 percent of homicides, both involving partners and non-partners, were heralded by domestic violence (Peters et al., 2002), in essence showing the consequences of domestic violence to the social fabric.

On the other hand, although scarcely available, other statistics on domestic violence indicate that 25-30 percent of intimate violence are against men (Corry, Fiebert & Pizzey, 2001). Thus, although women are largely the victims of domestic violence, men are equally victims. Thus, although laws such as the primary aggressor, larger have men arrested, research indicates that the assaults are in fact mutual and that women are more likely (at 80 percent) than men (at 25 percent) to use weapons (Corry, Fiebert & Pizzey, 2001). This points to the fact that in cases violence, men are more likely that female to receive fatal injuries. This is in addition to the fact that even as about 275,000 men require rehabilitation service annually as a result of domestic violence. It is in fact women who are more likely than men to engage in aggressive tendencies against their partners, and that 71 percent of nonreciprocal spouse violence are indeed instigated by women (Stop Abuse and Violent Environments, 2010).

One of the major assumptions, and an opportunity lost for comprehensive domestic violence data capture, treatment, mitigation and prevention, is on race and economic status. Many health care providers and experts largely assume and anticipate domestic violence among the poor, young and nonwhite patients (Klap et al., 2007). This is sad however, given that data on domestic violence point out that the incidences cut across all population subgroups. The occurrence of domestic violence incidences among all population subgroups is perhaps the reason most of the professional organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology vouch for screening of all females by clinicians for domestic violence (Eliot et al., 2002).

Although all women are at risk of being victims of domestic violence, some subgroups are more vulnerable than others are to cases of domestic violence. Among the most vulnerable of these groups are women with disabilities, given their lives in social isolation, economic and social dependence, and sometimes poverty (Healey, Humphreys & Howe, 2013). Further, African-American women experience a disproportionate amount of domestic violence in comparison to their white counterparts (Bent-Goodley, 2004). This is equally true to the Hispanics, who like their black counterparts; receive a huge share of domestic violence in comparison to their white counterparts.

While the women from all social and racial divides are likely to be victims of domestic violence, there are barriers that stand in the way of the women from seeking mitigation measures against the violence they face. According to Bent-Goodley (2004), black women are at higher risks of experiencing domestic violence and the consequences of the violence (such as death, contracting HIV and getting unwanted pregnancies), yet they also remain oblivious to their predicament. The more likely theoretical explanation for this is their reluctance to pursue help for domestic violence and their lack of perception as being entirely in danger (Bent-Goodley, 2004).

Yet another barrier for mitigation and screening of domestic violence lies in the violence victims. According to Elliot et al. (2002), many abuse victims rarely and unwillingly share information or histories of abuse. It is therefore up to the clinician to deduce cases and signs of abuse for action to be taken. Sometimes however, this does not happen and therefore the women continue to suffer in silence. This also happens to be true to men who experience domestic violence, and who therefore consider reporting such cases would be a bruise to their bloated egos and therefore continue in their silent suffering.

Although many professional organizations encourage health facilities to screen for domestic violence among their patients, a low number of women are screened for domestic violence.  This is largely due to the fact that many of the health providers are not comfortable in dealing with domestic violence (Klap et al., 2007). There is again an absence of a national survey to address domestic violence, and therefore the incidences remain at state, regional or county levels, with loosely held national consortiums that address the issue (Klap et al., 2007).

An additional barrier in addressing domestic violence, especially against men, is the societal perception of violence. Thus, while men have been and continue to be victims of domestic violence especially in marital quarrels, society does not consider the female actions as violence (Corry, Fiebert & Pizzey, 2001).  Women therefore continually slap, hit, hurl abuses and even through things at their partners in the heat of an argument, yet these outbursts are continually ignored as domestic violence against men, are not included in studies on domestic violence and therefore lock out men from seeking any redress against such violence (Corry, Fiebert & Pizzey, 2001).

Reporting of the different forms of domestic violence remains one of the major impediments to taking action against perpetrators of domestic violence (Sullivan, 2011). It is therefore important that all cases of domestic violence be reported for action to be taken against the perpetrators. While it is possible to reach an agreement with the partner over the course of a relationship, seeking counselling services, anger management sessions and even rehabilitation centers can help in a major way in reforming the violent partner. Through such services, individuals get to learn their mistakes and can eventually live a happy life as partners. However, in cases where such intervention measures are unfruitful, obtaining a restraining order as a form of protection can be a solution. While some of these orders are violated, they go a long way in ensuring that the victims (mostly women) remain safe within the confines of the law.


















Bent-Goodley, T. (2004). Perceptions Of Domestic Violence: A dialogue with African-American women. Health & Social Work, 29(4), 307-16

Corry, C. E., Pizzey, E. & Fiebert, M. S. (2001). Controlling Domestic Violence Against Men. Nuance, 17(3): 71-86

Elliott, L., Nerney, M., Jones, T., & Friedmann, P. D. (2002). Barriers to screening for domestic violence. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 17(2), 112-6.

Healey, L., Humphreys, Cathy, B.S.W., & Howe, K., B.S.W. (2013). Inclusive domestic violence standards: Strategies to improve interventions for women with disabilities? Violence and Victims, 28(1), 50-68

Klap, R., Tang, L., Wells, K., Starks, S. L., & Rodriguez, M. (2007). Screening for domestic violence among adult women in the United States. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 22(5), 579-84

Peters, J., Shackelford, T. K., & Buss, D. M. (2002). Understanding domestic violence against women: Using evolutionary psychology to extend the feminist functional analysis. Violence and Victims, 17(2), 255-64

Stop Abuse and Violent Environments. (2010). Domestic Violence Programs Discriminate Against Male Victims. Rockville, MD: Stop Abuse and Violent Environments

Sullivan, C. (2011). Evaluating domestic violence support service programs: Waste of time, necessary evil, or opportunity for growth? Aggression and Violent Behavior, 16:354–360