Domestic Violence, Are the Police Overly Zealous?

Evidently it is possible, in some states, for the police, if they have been called, to enter a home and arrest a resident for domestic violence even when the spouse does not press charges. In these cases, judges have the right to impose restraining orders despite the fact that the spouse has no wish for such an order. Furthermore, these cases proceed through court with or without the spouse’s cooperation. It is not the purpose of this article to discuss civil rights but to explore the phenomenon of domestic violence and spousal abuse. Without consulting legal definitions and staying within the parameters of psychology, it is presumed that the police arrest people for domestic violence in the service of protecting people against being abused by their partner. In addition, in the states where the police have to right of arrest if they have been called, they do not realize that they are sometimes being used as dupes by angry spouses who are acting out their vengeance wishes in the heat of battle only to regret it afterward. In the service of protecting people are we not giving the police too much power? If a domestic violence call is made and neither spouse wishes to press charges for allegedly committing an act of violence should not the police leave the premises with the understanding that whoever is accused leave the home until morning?  In quite a few cases in states where the police are obligated to arrest someone if they are called on a domestic dispute, family life has been seriously disrupted by the police intervening. These are cases in which the police had no prior history of calls to the house for spouse abuse, alcoholism, disturbing the peace, or any other anti social acts.  Yet, in these situations some one was carted off to jail and charged with various degrees of assault without the cooperation of the supposed victim of this assault. Many of those arrested were outraged by the police attitude that they were guilty without trial.  

Spouse-abuse does not refer to a single incidence of married couples getting carried away during an argument and becoming physical with one another. Rather, abuse refers to a chronic and ongoing pattern of violence in which one spouse batters, beats, and injures the other spouse. In the two cases, the abuser is usually the male partner. He always begs and pleads forgiveness after the storm has ended. The victim of abuse, usually the woman, regularly fails to press charges out of fear of abandonment or revenge on the part of the perpetrator. Legal authorities and psychotherapists plead with the victim to abandon the abuser, and seek refuge and safety elsewhere, but to no avail. Tragically, some of these cases end in the death of the victim and the permanent imprisonment of the perpetrator on charges of murder.   However, domestic violence may involve one or more instances of a spouse physically attacking and injuring their partner. Potentially, any couple can descend into violence during a quarrel if certain conditions are present. Among the conditions that can lend themselves to domestic violence are:  

Factors That Can Lead to Domestic Violence 1. Alcohol use: When someone has been drinking too much wine, beer or hard liquor they are more likely to react to provocations during an argument with violence. Alcohol does loosen inhibitions and make people more irritable and likely to get very angry. 

2. Illicit drugs: Drugs alter the perception of reality and harm one’s ability to control emotions.  3. Mental illness.  

4. Someone having a quick or hot temper.  5. Coming from a traditional society where men are raised to expect to be in control.  

6. Level of education. Studies show the higher the level of education the less likely there is to be abuse or violence.  7. History of being abused by one or both parents during childhood. 

8. History of witnessing parents abusing one another (usually the husband abusing the wife) during childhood. 9. Intense feelings of weakness and low self worth on the part of one or both of the people involved in the abuse. 

10. One or both partners carry a diagnosis of Rage Disorder, in which they cannot control their tempers, which often and easily explode. Measured against these definitions of abuse and domestic violence are those instances when married couples become involved in loud arguments. High percentages of married couples quarrel and even become quite loud during these arguments. There are even instances where either one may shove, slap, or hurl curse words at the other.  

I often tell the story of the couple we knew many years ago who went out and purchased very cheap china, because when they hurled plates at the walls during their spats, they did not want to harm their valuable china sets. Sound crazy? Well, it worked for them!Yet, I have to wonder what might have happened to them today?  Is it possible that in our zero tolerance attitudes toward domestic violence, particularly the abuse of women and children, we are becoming too rigid in how we allow the police to approach these issues and situations? There is no question about the fact that abuse of women and children is totally unacceptable. But is it not also true that things that may look a certain way may not be that way at all?  

It is my opinion that the police need to err on the side of caution when approaching a home in which there have been no previous calls for domestic violence. It is just too easy to assume that someone is a perpetrator and the other is a victim. Married couples quarrel and may even over step certain boundaries in terms of self control and civilized behavior. This does not necessarily mean that there is any domestic violence and/or physical and verbal abuse on an ongoing basis.  The average couple who become embroiled in domestic violence, needs intense psychotherapeutic and psychiatric treatment rather than prison. 

3 comments on “Domestic Violence, Are the Police Overly Zealous?

  1. Guy Spencer says:

    I think the police should only get involved directly, when there are repeated incidents. Otherwise they are just going to get swamped.

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