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Domestic Violence Activism in Law and Society Term Paper

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Updated: Nov 3rd, 2020

The Law and Its Possible Consequences

Nowadays, there are many topics related to law and social norms that are quite contradictory and encourage people to raise arguments (Sutton). One of them is domestic violence – supposedly one of the urgent challenges for modern society because of the complexity of the problem. Many activists would like to invent specific measures to protect people (especially women) from the domestic battery. Still, such efforts often run into severe difficulties when one group supposes that it is less protected by the law than another.

We are supposed to discuss the case devoted to a particular law proposed by feminist organizations from different parts of the United States. According to the opinions of their members, cases of domestic violence should be paid increased attention because the police often fail to protect women who are victims of family violence; in fact, they tend to answer a call, visit the family, and warn the abuser. It should hardly be surprising that such measures do not help to prevent further cases of violence. Therefore, it was decided to review a draft law in some cities, including New York. According to this law, to protect the victims more effectively, it is necessary to arrest the assaulters. It is much more useful to encourage people to avoid harming others with the help of law than using other means of social control (Tyler 23). At the same time, it was taken into consideration that both women and men can be assaulters, and this is why the law requires police officers to arrest people without regard to their gender. The principle of equality is believed to be extremely important when it comes to the law (Locke 4).

To begin with, it is necessary to say that such laws may have both short-term and long-term consequences. According to its very idea, each law has to benefit people (Radbruch & Paulson 13); nevertheless, if we discuss domestic violence, unintended and undesirable consequences can be noted. The law aims to protect people, but in some cases, it may also serve as a kind of minister of vengeance.

When considering the short-term consequences of such a law, it is necessary to state that they are likely to provide adequate reasons for many people to think twice before using violence. Unfortunately, even though we live in a civilized state, many people still see mental and physical abuse as a guilty act and an acceptable way to resolve conflict. Thus, using violence, they tend to think that it is nothing more than a desperate measure to redress injustice. Due to these distorted interpretations of physical violence and its negative consequences, many people continue using it. Taking it into consideration, we may state that one of the possible short-term implications of the adoption of the discussed law will be a certain degree of discontent among people who have complicated relationships with their spouses. New laws remain the instruments of social changes, and unwillingness to accept the changes may result in numerous protests (Colombotos 318).

I also suppose that some of these people may start lifting their voices against the law, paying particular attention to the idea that it is theoretically allowable that the law can punish people for other actions that are not connected with domestic violence. In such a way, men may fear that their wives can use this law for their purposes. For instance, they may be afraid that their spouses will fake evidence of body blows to deprive husbands of an opportunity to live together with their children or to requite perceived wrongs. This may involve cases in which people take revenge for insults or seek vengeance for conjugal infidelity. Although such cases do not happen too often, I suppose that society’s attention will likely be focused on this problem within the first months after the adoption of the discussed law. Therefore, it may be necessary to develop and implement a range of additional rules to protect those arrested for battery, even though it did not occur. Interestingly, the situation presents a paradox when alleged assaulters may themselves need to be protected.

What is more, I suppose that negative short-term consequences will not involve the only discontent expressed by men assuming that this law can be used against them. The same is true for women, especially ones related to feminist organizations. According to the statement, the police have to arrest both women and men who are suspected of using physical violence to resolve a conflict. Therefore, it may be stated that men can also use the law to punish their wives for some actions. I am convinced that the law about domestic violence – in which the same principles are applied towards men and women – will cause an adverse reaction among feminists, and there are specific reasons for it. Although there is a need to focus on control and order, the decision to treat men and women equally when it comes to domestic violence could be regarded as questionable (Selznick et al. 8).

To begin with, it cannot be denied that cases of domestic violence against men take place many times less often; in general, physical violence is used by men against both men and women (Devries et al.). It is necessary to remember that, on average, women are smaller and less strong than men, and this is why the adoption of the law may raise additional questions. Despite that, domestic violence also occurs in same-sex couples (Renzetti & Miley). Nevertheless, it may be that physical violence is the last way for a woman to protect herself and her children from a husband who is using threatening behavior. The law may also be used by men to punish their wives, causing discontent within society. As for long-term consequences, I suppose that such a law may decrease the number of repeated domestic violence cases. Although it may be necessary to discuss some additional rules that help the police understand particular situations better, I suppose that the initiative may encourage people to consider the consequences of such behavior.

Assessing the Impact of the Law

Due to some specific details, the discussed law about domestic violence may be regarded as quite controversial. This is why it may be necessary to conduct a study to assess its impact and define whether it helps decrease the rates of family abuse. To begin with, I suppose that it will be essential to take into consideration not only the personal experiences of the victims of domestic violence and the assailants but also statistical data on the involvement of the police. Therefore, I believe that it will be most useful to conduct the discussed research using mixed methods of approach because it will help analyze whether people feel safer because of this law. It is known that such a methodology requires the researchers to be more focused and relate findings from different parts of the study to each other to avoid misinterpretation (Bryman 32). Despite that, I suppose that only qualitative or quantitative data cannot help assess the impact of the law.

To continue, I believe that it is essential to compare the situation with domestic violence using data collected before adopting the law and data gathered six and twelve months after the adoption, to see if people’s perceptions have changed. To study people’s personal opinions about the law and its effectiveness, it may be necessary to conduct a series of in-depth interviews with police officers and ask them to assess the situation with domestic battery and define if there are any adverse effects law. Then, it may be necessary to interview the victims of domestic violence who were protected with the help of the law and ask them to report on their experience and present condition of mental health. It will be necessary to measure their stress level and define whether they feel safer or fear that any relevant, arrested offenders will take vengeance on them for calling the police.

Apart from that, it may be essential to analyze the assumptions of people arrested because of this law. Among other things, it is critical to determine whether their opinions on the use of physical violence have changed due to the law adopted. Assuming that some of the alleged offenders are not found guilty of the offenses they were arrested, it is vital to maintain their anonymity. I suppose that misstatements can be a real obstacle to achieving a correct assessment of any situation. This is why the use of a psychological stress evaluator or similar device may be needed (Bourke et al.). In the end, it will be necessary to generalize the statistical data from precinct stations in New York to estimate the number of cases of domestic violence reported and compare the situation for different periods. Analyzing the statistical data, it is also essential to consider the number of cases that are later classified as false alarms because there was no physical assault.

Therefore, to assess the impact of the new law created to protect people from domestic violence, it is necessary to compare the situation before and after its adoption, paying particular attention to domestic violence rates reported by the police, victims’ perceptions and the level of stress, and possible change in opinions of those people who were arrested due to this law. Nevertheless, it is essential to pay increased attention to overcoming difficulties connected to participants’ willingness to conceal their real thoughts.

Works Cited

Bourke, Michael L., et al. “The Use of Tactical Polygraph with Sex Offenders.” Journal of Sexual Aggression, vol. 21, no. 3, 2015, pp. 354-367.

Bryman, Alan. Social Research Methods. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Colombotos, John. “Physicians and Medicare: A before-after Study of the Effects of Legislation on Attitudes.” American Sociological Review, vol. 34, no. 3, 1969, pp. 318-334.

Devries, Karen M., et al. “The Global Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence against Women.” Science, vol. 340, no. 6140, 2013, pp. 1527-1528.

Locke, John. Second Treatise of Government: An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government (1690). John Wiley & Sons, 1982.

Radbruch, Gustav, and Bonnie Litschewski Paulson. “Five Minutes of Legal Philosophy (1945).” Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, vol.26, no.1, 2006, pp. 13-15.

Renzetti, Claire M., and Charles H. Miley. Violence in Gay and Lesbian Domestic Partnerships. Routledge, 2014.

Selznick, Philip, et al. Law, Society, and Industrial Justice. Russell Sage Foundation, 1969.

Sutton, John. Law/Society: Origins, Interactions, and Change. Pine Forge Press, 2001.

Tyler, Tom. “Normative Issues and Compliance.” Why People Obey the Law, 1990, pp. 22-27.

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