This must be lengthy in response to the questions needing to be answered. Please make sure there is at least 3 paragraphs to each question.
Domestic abuse is extremely complicated. It’s not a photograph that registers the minute you look at it. It’s three-dimensional. It’s a piece of sculpture. You have to take the time to walk around it, studying it from different angles, if you want to understand what it’s really like for a woman who is living with an abuser.
Elaine Weiss, Ed.D. Family & Friend’s Guide to Domestic Violence, 2003
In your reading for this week Miller (The Controversy About Women’s Use of Force) explores intimate violence against men and the validity of the CTS. The author also introduces the concept of “mutual combat” or “mutual battering.” This hotly debated and complex issue involves a variety of factors but two important issues need mention here. First, changes in law enforcement policies have created what is commonly referred to as mandatory arrest policies. Mandatory arrest policies typically state that when responding to domestic violence calls the violent offender should be arrested.
Originally lauded by practitioners and advocates as a major step in holding perpetrators accountable for their abusive behavior, many are beginning to rethink their stand of these policies. In jurisdictions where police officers determine who to arrest based on “visible signs of injury” battered women who have used force to defend themselves may be arrested, referred to as a batterer and mandated to attend a batterer’s treatment program (typically a socioeducational intervention group for male batterers).
The reality that many survivors use force against their partners, and are now being arrested for such, has led to the controversial concept of mutual battering. In some police jurisdictions the practice of making dual arrests in which both parties are arrested sometimes leads to the above outcome as well.
Second, early attitudes about domestic violence identified males as batterers and women as victims. As our understanding of this complex issue increases, we are beginning to understand that gender is not the most effective criteria for determining the primary aggressor nor is counting how many times who hit whom. In particular, gender criteria becomes useless when addressing abusive same sex relationships.
Please review the Miller article (in eReserves) in addition to Determining the Primary Aggressor (under Week 3 Content)
For the purposes of this discussion, please respond to the case study below.
Determining the Primary Aggressor Scenario Jane Brown has been married to Ralph Brown for thirteen years. They have three children, ages 11, 9, and 6. One evening Ralph contacts the local police department on his cell phone explaining that his wife is trying to kill him. When the police arrive they find the children crying, the house in disarray, the phone has been pulled from the wall, Jane is hysterical and Ralph is holding his head and complaining that his wife has attacked him. Jane screams that she’s trying to leave but Ralph has taken her car keys. Ralph explains that he took her keys because he was afraid his wife would hurt herself in her hysterical condition, but now wants his wife arrested so that he and his children will be safe.
Respond to the following questions and at least 2 of your classmates’ posts:
1. Is it possible to identify the primary aggressor in this situation. If yes, how? If no, why not?
2. What difficulties might police officers encounter when trying to determine the primary aggressor in this situation?
3. Do you think it is the responsibility of the officers to determine the primary aggressor? If not, then who?
4. Please support your responses with proper in-text citations and references.
This scenario is based on an actual case. Please know that the last time I saw the survivor and children they were safe and doing well. I’ll let you in on the outcome once everyone has posted their responses.
If you are interested in the issue of mandatory arrests you may want to take a look at a controversial work by Linda Mills, Insult to Injury: Rethinking Our Responses to Intimate Abuse (Princeton University Press, 2003). Mills argues that mandatory arrest policies actually serve to hurt, rather than help, survivors.