Lesson 5
Victims of Domestic Violence

Background

      Domestic violence is a crime, not a family matter, and should be approached as such by law enforcement. U.S. Department of Justice statistics indicate that approximately 20 percent of homicides are committed within families or within intimate relationships, and one out of three female homicide victims is killed by an intimate. Furthermore, approximately 28 percent of violent crimes against females are committed by husbands or boyfriends. Finally, approximately 50 percent of domestic violence occurs between married partners and 25 percent between non-married partners living together, both involving mainly male assailants and female victims.

     The three primary responsibilities of law enforcement in domestic violence cases are to (1) provide physical safety and security for victims, (2) assist victims by coordinating their referral to support services, and (3) make arrests of domestic violence perpetrators as required by law.

      Unlike most other victims of crime, victims of domestic violence do not usually suffer a “sudden and unpredictable” threat to their safety or lives. More often, domestic violence involves years of personal stress and trauma, as well as physical injury. Thus, in domestic violence cases—unlike in other crimes—your ability to help victims cope with and recover from their victimization may be limited.

Tips for Responding to Victims of Domestic Violence