Legislation and Policies on Domestic Violence in the USA

If the victim of violence (and in 97% of cases they are women) calls the police, the police arrive at their home within a few minutes. There is no “deal with it your own way”, “when people who love each other quarrel, their arguments are not serious, they will soon make up”. The police are specially trained in the dynamics of relationships in situations of domestic violence and take such calls very seriously.

The police examine the victim for signs of physical abuse, such as bruises. They also check an apartment for destruction.

If they found any signs of violence, the abuser is arrested and placed in a jail for 24 hours. During these 24 hours, a court hearing takes place in the presence of a judge. Even if the victim withdraws the statement, the state continues to sue the abuser. This amendment came to the law, given that many victims of violence take the application back for a variety of reasons.

Usually, for the first time, the abuser receives a warning and is obliged to go through 26 sessions of therapy: one hour once a week, that is, this continues for six months. The offender pays for therapy out of pocket.

Each state has its own variations

Typically, the therapist writes a monthly report on the “successes” of the abuser for the court. After 26 weeks, the court is considering what to do with the abuser next. If he rested his horn and insists that “it was she who brought me” – he goes to jail.

If he realized his fault: he goes free, but if he gets caught a second time, he goes to jail.

Abuser therapy usually takes place in a group setting, in a group of no more than 12 people. The format is not punishing, but educational, debatable and never humiliating or ridiculing.

Abusers and offenders are treated the way they want them to treat their partners who are victims of their violence. Specially trained certified therapists simulate effective behavior in conflict situations for offerors. People who resolve conflicts solely through scuffles are taught new ways to resolve conflicts.

The room for therapy is equipped so that in which case the therapist presses a button and after five seconds a police squad armed to the teeth appears in the room. And the participants in the therapy know about it. They also know and see video cameras aimed at them.

This work is usually done only by court-accredited agencies, which have all the necessary equipment for the safety of therapists and the group members themselves.

One of the therapists who spent several years in an alarm room says: “I had the privilege of meeting offenders who were the best representatives of the wealthy northern suburbs of Chicago: doctors, lawyers, realtors and other “intelligent” professions. I had a client who threatened his wife to give her an injection in her sleep, from which she would never wake up if she tells at least one person that he was systematically beating her. Her husband was a very respected doctor. The wife didn’t claim him: the wife’s gynecologist said when she came to see him and he saw traces of violence on her body. The doctor immediately called the police, of course, because in the USA, doctors, psychologists and teachers are mandated reporters: they are obliged to report the signs of any abuse to the authorities. This is part of their agreement with the state, which grants the license to practice…A huge number of offenders were emigrants, immigrants from other countries in which there were no such laws and hence a feeling of complete impunity. There are a lot of immigrants from Poland, Yugoslavia, Mexico and a number of African countries. Half have higher education, almost all have an impeccable reputation at work.”

In addition to the compulsory course of therapy, offenders are prohibited from living in their homes until the sentence is over. If the victim issues an order of protection, which states that she does not want to receive phone calls or emails from her abuser, does not want him to approach her at a distance of 20 meters, then he must comply with any conditions prescribed in the order of protection.

All arrests, protection orders, charges are entered into the offender’s criminal record, and this affects finding a job, obtaining citizenship, a career, etc.

The Domestic Violence Law is a comprehensive approach to the problem of domestic violence. It involves the police, the court system, psychologists, social workers, employees of shelters for victims of violence, etc. All these people undergo special training and are specially trained to know how to behave, including in the most life-threatening situations.

After the introduction of the law in the 80s in the United States, the number of women killed by their husbands and boyfriends fell from 10 thousand to 1.5 thousand per year (per 300 million population).

There were many lawsuits in the USA when the victim of violence exceeded the level of self-defense and brought the case to the murder of her abuser. The defense in such cases often uses just the law on domestic violence. If the victim proves that she was systematically abused, which brought her to murder, such defendants are fully acquitted.

UPD. Domestic violence law is symmetrical. The abuser woman has the same responsibility as the man. A man can also be a victim of violence. Simply, according to statistics, the number of female victims is significantly higher.