The purpose of this study is to provide a review of research on the merits of public policy and law enforcement responses to intimate partner violence (IPV) in the USA using prevalence rates and dynamics of IPV.
A reading of recent comprehensive literature reviews was supplemented by a PsychInfo search of relevant articles published in peer-reviewed journals.
Laws against IPV in the USA have been enforced much more vigorously in comparison with most of the world, many of which have no such laws at all. While more perpetrators have been held accountable for their actions – increasing the safety of victims – many perpetrators are never brought to justice, and “mandatory arrest” laws sometimes result in arrests being made with a scant evidence of wrongdoing. This state of affairs can be traced two key factors. First, the persistence of the gender paradigm – an outdated and discredited set of assumptions about the role of gender in IPV – as formulated by battered women’s advocates, which has informed IPV public policy for several decades. Second, the complex nature of IPV, a phenomenon that mostly happens behind closed doors, varies widely in frequency, intensity, mutuality and impact on victims, and it cannot easily be framed in binary victim/perpetrator terms.
The arrest and prosecution of possibly innocent individuals is in violation of due process and mitigates against our common efforts to reduce IPV in our communities.
A compact summary of the relevant IPV policy literature is presented with a focus on an under-studied topic, i.e. the problems inherent in the categorization of individuals as either victims or perpetrators and the failure to recognize the inherently complex nature of IPV.
Hamel, J. (2020), "Perpetrator or victim? A review of the complexities of domestic violence cases", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JACPR-12-2019-0464Download as .RIS
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