In recent decades the United States public attitude toward the state’s involvement in controlling violence within a household has went through a positive change. However, the rate of domestic and intimate partner violence is still a major issue in our country. As a result, federal, state, and local legislation has established numerous legal assistances for domestic violence victims. In several instances federal, state, and local governments have introduced policies in law enforcement agencies that are designed to respond to the high rates of domestic violence cases.
With the increase of media coverage and the use of social media, thousands of women’s stories of mistreatment and violence are being heard on a worldwide scale. In prior decades a patriarchy society was the norm and to view your wife as property that you can strike or mistreat at will was acceptable legally. However, the ideology of women being viewed as property started to change after the court case of Calvin Bradley vs.
the State of Mississippi in 1824. This case saw the ruling that the husband had gone to extreme lengths to punish his wife. As a result this case helped set a precedent for creating new laws favoring women to fight against abuse from a spouse.
Throughout the 20th century, United States laws were changing to make illegal a physical assault or any form of domestic violence by a man against his wife. As the Feminist Movement began to grow in the 1960’s because of educated women who held degrees in law, literature, sociology and anthropology were spreading more support for abused women.
During the 1960’s the first domestic violence shelter in the United States was opened in Maine. In 1978, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence was organized to serve as the voice for the battered women’s movement on a national level.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) has been a key contributor in helping victims enter programs that can help them in their current situation. As reported on the NCADV 2010 survey, more than 20,000 phone calls were placed to their domestic violence hotline nationwide (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2010). Then in 1994, the United States government passed an important crime bill named the “Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. This is known for creating several programs that focuses on assisting law enforcement to fight violent crimes. For example, as stated in the crime bill it will help provide shelter to those victimized (United States. Congress House,1994).
However, this act was originally created to serve women. Later that year the U.S government invoked the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994. This is an United States federal law (Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, H.R. 3355) signed by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994. The Violence Against Women Act was made in order to improve victim services and the arrest and prosecution of abusers. The VAWA of 1994 promoted public coordinating responses to domestic violence (physical, sexual, emotional and economic abuse) through a national domestic violence hotline. As well as collect large amounts of funds for a number of different kinds of services and programs, like education and training programs.
Between 2000- 2005, Congress reauthorized the VAWA on two separate occasions to include new offenses that would violate the bill. After the 2000 reauthorization the act now included crimes of dating violence and stalking. The 2005 reauthorization of VAWA increased the funding for victims outreach services. In addition, the Act made it illegal to remove a victim of domestic violence (physical and economic abuse) from federal housing. It finally edit included providing extensive protection for immigrants who are victims of domestic violence. The last altering of the VAWA occurred in 2013, where Congress increase housing protections to include more federal housing programs for victims.
In order to try and explain the causes of domestic and intimate partner violence many sociologist have used different theories to clarify their findings. The four theories that sociologists use extensively when explaining why violence on a partner occurs is psychological, social learning, social stress and cognitive behavioral. As theorized in the book “ Intimate partner violence: A health-based perspective” by Deirdre Anglin and Connie Mitchell, define psychological theory as violence as a result of frustration (Anglin, Mitchell p.24-27, 2009). According to social learning theory in regard to domestic or initimate partner violence, it applies because numerous circumstantial and situational dynamics impacts a person’s decision making. For example circumstantial factors could be individual or couple characteristics, stress, or an aggressive personality. Situational factors could be drug/alcohol usuage and financial struggles.
Social learning theory also extends to the younger generations that views domestic violence on a daily basis and it becomes the norm in their lives. The theory of social stress explains how the interaction between individuals and society can physically and emotionally affect a person. In the case of domestic violence, unsettled stress can overwhelms one’s self-control and lead individuals to solve problems through violence (Farrington, 1986). Lastly, cognitive behavioral theory similar to social stress deals with an individual who suffers being able to control there emotions. According to, Judith Todd and Arthur C. Bohart textbook “Foundations of Clinical and Counseling Psychology” this theory when being appolied to domestic violence situation is when a behavior is influenced by what a person perceives and interprets prior to a reaction (Todd, Bohart, 2006).