The response of the court to intimate partner violence must be to protect and preserve the life and safety of all victims. There is also a mandate to hold every offender accountable for their acts of violence. The courts response is evolving to address a serious and complex issue in society. The response starts with legislation that creates the laws. The front line of the courts response and the first responders are the police.
Laws are changing in regards to police response. In a growing number of places it is becoming mandatory to make an arrest when intimate partner violence is indicated. The problem is that when an officer would otherwise exercise discretion they no longer have that option. An example is when there is obvious mental illness the officer could have recommended medical or psychiatric help, that individual now goes to jail. The victim may not receive any needed assistance and the offender goes through the system without the help needed to end the cycle of violent behavior.
Some victims never report violence because they fear a negative experience with police. There is also a mindset that without visible physical proof their claim will not be taken seriously. One the biggest obstacles a victim must overcome is the fear of revenge from the offender. Victims at times face the challenge of whether they will be blamed, they may even blame themselves. At the same time the change is good because safety for the victim is not left to chance. Both approaches have positives and negatives, however, a policy of mandatory arrest leaves no room to discern the issue of false accusation.
The issue of false accusation in intimate partner violence is problematic. There is no way to tell with all certainty if there is no physical evidence and no prior history of violence. In this case the alleged victim is well aware that society and the law is on the side of the accuser. Life and safety are paramount so action will be taken for the accuser and against the offender immediately before any proof is necessary. The offender is often guilty first and must prove their innocence.
There are a few reasons for false accusations. Despite the fact that both men and women are capable of and do commit intimate partner violence most people and law enforcement officers maintain the opinion that only a female can be a victim. Society has the ideology that since men are stronger it’s the female that needs support. Many judges were raised in a time where men were expected to protect and cater to a woman’s cry for help. The key point is that in a dispute or altercation “a woman could only be the victim”.
Here is a real life example of how faulty the system is in regards to false accusations. My current wife and I went through difficult times several years ago. I was not making right decisions and she made a decision to get a TPO. At one point she and I had contact and she pulled over an officer and I was arrested. We spoke on the phone while I was incarcerated and she agreed to tell the truth so that I would be released and we could get help. She contacted the prosecutor and told the truth which should have sufficed in order for me to be immediately released. The prosecutor would not listen to her and refused to work towards my release. After two months I was released and since then we have both healed and live a very strong and healthy life together with our family. However, a false accusation not only wrongly incarcerated me, but it highlighted how corrupt the legal system is in the name of protecting victims. They were not interested in the truth.
For reasons of leverage, sympathy, and revenge woman effectively use false accusations as a weapon that is seldom defeated. The court must establish a stance of zero tolerance for perjury in cases of violence due to the extreme consequences an alleged offender faces. At times the…