Conference Addressing the Criminalization and Prevention of Domestic Violence

According to findings in a 2000 U.S. Department of Justice survey,Conference Addressing the Criminalization and Prevention of Domestic Violence Articles an estimated 4.5 million physical assaults are committed against United States women by intimate partners annually. A 1998 survey by The Commonwealth Fund says that nearly one-third of American women report being raped or physically assaulted by a current or former boyfriend at some point in their lives.The Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (AZCADV) defines domestic violence as “a pattern of behavior that includes the use or threat of violence and intimidation for the purpose of gaining power over another person.” This kind of violence is not limited to physical abuse and may also be characterized by sexual, economic,

emotional or verbal abuse, as well as isolation or control. There are 2.51 domestic homicides of women per one million population in Arizona. AZCADV says, based on newspaper reports, 106 people died in Arizona in 2000 as a result of homicide related to domestic violence.Domestic Violence Victims More Than Faceless StatisticsFox Phoenix reports that earlier this year, Jamie Gallegos was shot to death by her ex-husband, who later killed himself. Gallegos had gotten remarried just two months earlier and was dropping off her two sons, ages 7 and 10, at church when her ex-husband, apparently fueled by jealousy, killed her.Eighty-five percent of domestic violence victims, like Gallegos, are women. Additionally, in 2000 in Arizona, 22 perpetrators committed suicide following a domestic violence-related homicide.

Although women of all socio-economic groups experience abuse, women in poverty may face particular challenges in leaving abusive relationships because they lack the resources necessary to support themselves and their children.The U.S. Department of Justice says that more than half of female victims of intimate partner violence lie in households with children under the age of 12. Of the incidents known to police, three percent of spouse and intimate partner assaults also include a child abuse victim. Additionally, every year, thousands of American children witness intimate partner violence in their families.Domestic Violence Prosecutions:

A Fresh Look at Routine ResponsesSarah Buel is a domestic violence survivor. The former prosecutor and national leader in programming to aid battered women and children, she is currently the faculty director for the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice. Buel was seated on the seven-speaker panel of the recent conference held at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. The conference, titled “Domestic Violence Prosecutions: A Fresh Look at Routine Responses,” pooled domestic violence prosecutors, national scholars and law professors to discuss new challenges and potential solutions in the field.Buel said the conference represented an opportunity to engage scholars and practitioners alike in planning the next steps in the criminalization of domestic violence. These issues did not exist nearly four decades ago,

when society first began talking about violence in the home, says conference co-organizer Carissa Byrne Hessick. She says scholars today are challenging whether the modern tactics of prosecutions are particularly effective in combating domestic violence.Historically both underreported and underprosecuted, domestic violence has proved to be an especially intractable problem, despite modern criminal justice innovations such as mandatory arrest and no-drop prosecution policies. The methods for decreasing violence have garnered intense disagreement and debate. Hessick noted the potential for increased conflict in Arizona, with regard to the prosecution of domestic violence on tribal lands. The conference created the unique opportunity to bring practitioners and academics together for discussion. Securing a Safer Future for VictimsThe Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) says that domestic violence affects more than 32 million Americans per year. A woman is physically abused in America every nine seconds,

and domestic violence accounts for over 50 percent of female homicides.Buel urges that instead of asking victims why they stay or cooperate with their partner, the community should reach out to them. There are options for victims, even if they feel financially bound to their abusers. After the victims have secured a safe environment for themselves and any children involved, they may wish to seek a protective order, file for divorce or speak with a counselor. Domestic abuse victims should seek shelter in a safe place and then contact a skilled lawyer. A lawyer can file for a protective order to keep the abuser at a distance; a family law attorney can also help protect the economic interests of a battered spouse both in the property division and in any demand for child or spousal support.

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