August 26, 2013
Spousal Abuse Domestic violence is considered to be one of the most unreported crimes in the United States. Spousal abuse has always been an issue across the nation, it can be found in many different cultural, genders and social classes. Spousal abuse is abuse that is physical, emotional, mental or sexual abuse caused by a partner, or a spouse. According to American Bar Association (2011), "Approximately there are 1.3 million women and 835,000 men that are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States” (Domestic Violence Statistics). Noticing and acknowledge signs of an abusive relationship is key for trying to end the violence.
Laws that Help Protect Spousal Abuse
Spousal abuse has become more common over the last forty years. Before then, women were abused on a regular basis. Now, due in part to cultural diversity among neighborhoods and the internet, many of these crimes have come to light. Because of spousal abuse, new laws have been put in place to curb the violence. Crimes such as assault, sexual abuse, spousal rape, assault with deadly weapon, and even murder are only a few violent acts that the victim’s partner can be arrested for today. Although the crimes remain the same for many individuals, crimes involving spousal abuse have changed a bit. In past decades, when a spouse would report abuse, law enforcement would go to the place of the complaint looking for evidence of a crime (i. e., witnesses, physical marks, etc.), and arrest the accused party.
Law enforcement would file appropriate charges on behalf of the accuser. Later that day or the following day, the accuser was able to go to the police station, sign a waiver, thus dropping the charges against his or her spouse and both would walk out of the precinct arm in arm, only for law enforcement to be called to their address hours, days, or weeks later for the same crimes. In recent years, in most states, domestic violence laws have changed for spousal abuse crimes. Now, if law enforcement investigates crimes of spousal abuse, and finds evidence or reasonable cause, the officers file charges on the accused, on behalf of the State. Because the State is filing the spousal abuse charges, this changes the dynamics of the legal process. Under this process, the spouse that is the abused party can no longer sign a waiver and drop the charges. For this reason, the accused is normally jailed and the legal process begins.
Background and Dynamics of Spousal Abuse There are many dynamics that circle around spousal abuse. Relationships don’t usually begin with abuse as a factor. There is a trigger that begins the violent behavior. As well, the abuse usually starts with small actions and will increasingly get worse. It is more common to see female victims; however it is not unheard of for a male which is being abused by his partner. The female victims are more likely to seek help or tell others what is going on behind closed doors. As where the male victim will let his pride get in the way therefore, allowing more female abusers to get away with their actions. Factors that typically play a role in a person becoming an abuser include drug or alcohol abuse, low self-esteem, biology, and life events or stressors (National Violence Against Woman, 2000). Men will often become more violent if he feels his spouse is challenging his control or there is a fear of his spouse leaving the relationship. Most abusers do not act on their urges outside their relationship because they don’t want others to see their true colors. Those abusers outside their home will not have a fear of what others think, and their abuse is more likely to result in the death of their spouse.
Some Effective Strategies for Intervening in Cases of Spousal Abuse