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Changing Attitudes About Domestic Violence

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 50 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2002 Pages: 60-62,64,65
Richard Johnson
Date Published
April 2002
5 pages
This article presents a historical overview on the perception of domestic violence within the American criminal justice system from a system that condoned domestic violence to a system of changing attitudes with a get tough stance against domestic violence.
In the past, the American criminal justice system did not perceive domestic violence as a crime, not even a problem. Even with the women’s rights movement in the late 1800's, women continued to be abused by their husbands, fathers, and boyfriends, however it became socially unacceptable. In later years, society began to view domestic violence as a problem. After World War II, studies linked growing up in an abusive home with the likelihood of criminal behavior later in life. Most domestic batterers showed a consistent pattern of violence and manipulation for the purpose of power and control. During most of the 1900's, domestic violence was acknowledged, but treated as a private family matter. Family violence became an issue with the influence of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1960's and 1970's. As the years progressed, domestic violence in American society began to be seen as a violent criminal act. As the attitude toward family violence began changing so did the criminal justice system. Two major events identified as bringing about this change included the development of professional police standards and the implementation of the Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP). Today domestic violence is acknowledged as a serious, violent crime and part of society that harms women, increases child abuse, reduces medical resources, and endangers the lives and welfare of officers. The pursuit of methods in treating and reducing violent behavior by abusers has stretched from counseling agencies, to law enforcement, to the courts, and to corrections agencies.