Domestic violence involves the use of control or actions that are hurtful in a dating or couple relationship. It is also referred to as ‘intimate partner violence.’ A batter or abuse involves the use of sexual or physical violence, threatening to take control by maximizing on the victims fear, and emotional hurt (Sheltering Wings, n.d). Domestic abuse is experienced in all parts of the world with studies showing that both men and women are victims, that is one in seven men, and one in four women are abused (Filipovic, 2017). However, women are the majority of victims, and according to a UNICEF study, 20% to 50% population of women globally become victims of domestic violence (Feminist Majority Foundation, n.d).
Domestic violence impacts on the victims negatively causing them trauma, psychological and emotional hurt, physical pain and death through suicides. Despite the pain inflicted during the violent incidences, 50% of the victims do not seek help or report the cases. Male victims rarely find help or report the incident compared to the female victims (Sheltering Wings, n.d). A report in New York indicates that majority of the victims do not report these incidences because they face police discrimination when seeking protection (ACLU, 2015). Additionally, they feel ashamed, consider the incident unimportant and fear the abusers might retaliate or turn to violence (Feminist Majority Foundation, n.d).
Additionally, the victims view the matter as private, and reporting feel like an invasion of privacy (Feminist Majority Foundation, n.d). Some victims especially women hesitate to report because they detest the idea of their partners being sent to jail (Filipovic, 2017). Another major reason for under-reporting of domestic violence is the distrust in the police and the justice system. According to Feminist Majority Foundation, police response to these incidences is inadequate with a “clear and pervasive pattern of departures from departmental policy” in the police department. For example, 83% of victims were not provided with resources or contact information, and only 17% inquired about restraining orders.
Moreover, victims do not report because the police at times are hostile and insensitive especially to minorities, for example, LGBT and individuals of colored communities (Filipovic, 2017). The study by ACLU (2015) indicates that willingness of the victims to reach out to the police is influenced by the kind of relations the victim’s community has with the police. The victims in these marginalized communities also experience a series of actions and events that inflict fear after reporting. For example, victims have reported that after contacting the police it triggered the participation of the child protective services who threaten the victims with loss rights to have custody of their children (ACLU, 2015).
ACLU (2015) also adds that seeking help from the authority is reported to have caused loss of employment, housing, welfare benefits and initiation of immigration actions. These consequences discourage the victims from reporting any incidents of domestic violence. Some victims report they do not report any recent violent incident to the police due to a bad experience with the police previously and the belief that the police department will regard the matter as trivial. For example, ACLU (2015) report shows that police often blame the victims and do not believe what they say.
For instance, in the case of a black woman, Tiawanda Moore, experienced domestic violence on several occasions living with her boyfriend. She reached out to the police on several occasions, and in one occasion that the police officer who responded to her call gave Moore his cell number and fondled her right after interviewing her alone (Filipovic, 2017). She tried to file a complaint later on, but the police officers snubbed and in a quest to show how the police were not ‘doing their jobs,’ she recorded them with her phone. Thus leading to Moore being charged for eavesdropping which could result in 15-years imprisonment (Filipovic, 2017). This shows how police behavior in handling domestic violence victims deters them from reporting the cases. The complexity of the reporting system is also a bit confusing to victims hence they avoid it.
- ACLU. (2015 October, 27). New Report Examines Why Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence Don’t Call the Police. ACLU. Retrieved from https://www.aclu.org/news/new-report-examines-why-victims-domestic-and-sexual-violence-dont-call-police
- Feminist Majority Foundation. (n.d.). Domestic Violence Resources. Feminist Majority Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.feminist.org/other/dv/dvfact.html
- Filipovic, J. (2017 October, 06). 14 Misconceptions About Domestic Violence. Cosmopolitan. Retrieved from http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/news/a31528/14-misconceptions-about-domestic-violence/
- Sheltering Wings. (n.d.). Defining Domestic Violence. Sheltering Wings. Retrieved from https://shelteringwings.org/what-is-domestic-violence/