Treatment for Violent Individuals. History and Treatment of Domestic Violence

Essay 2013 8 Pages

Sociology - Law, Delinquency, Abnormal Behavior



Introduction, Aims and Objectives

History of Understanding of Domestic Violence

Treatment of Domestic Violence

Analysis and Conclusions


Introduction, Aims and Objectives

Violence within a criminal setting produces some interesting questions, both in terms of how the criminal justice system can look to manage and reduce the impact of violence on society, as a whole, but also within the family setting. The purpose of this paper is to consider the generic question about whether treatment is the best way to deal with violent individuals, with particular reference to the issues associated with domestic violence. By looking at this area of violence, there is the opportunity to consider wider social and psychological issues associated with violent conduct. This paper will firstly look at the definitions of domestic violence and the way in which the policies and criminal procedures have evolved to deal with this area. Any difficulties with the issues of domestic violence will be discussed, recognising that domestic violence often needs to be looked at in a wider context than simply looking at one immediate criminal activity, as it is often seen to be a repeated situation within the family setting.

Treatment policies will be considered alongside their relative merits and demerits, as well as potentially looking at alternatives to treatment, such as focusing on empowering the victim. Domestic violence produces a real opportunity in this regard and is therefore the focus of the analysis here (HM Court Service, 2007).

History of Understanding of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is typically considered to be a pattern of violence or abuse between partners who are in a relationship of some description such as marriage, cohabitation or dating. It should be noted that domestic violence as an area can in fact include quite a broad definition of violence which includes not only physical attacks, but also emotional, verbal or even financial abuse. The focus here is more on the physical violence, but it is relevant to note, particularly when looking at potential treatments, that there may be a much broader range of issues to take into account beyond the obvious physical manifestation (Home Office, 1995).

The issue of domestic violence has been the focus of police officers and policy responses, with a view to considering how the police can work with the offenders to provide treatment that breaks the domestic violence cycle. In September 2013, the Home Office produced a specific review of the responses provided by the police to domestic violence situations. Whilst this is to do with the prosecution rather than the treatment, it is a relevant part of this discussion, as it recognises the difficulties faced at this earliest stage of treatment, and at the point at which the prosecution is decided upon. More specifically, it is relevant to note that, according to Women's Aid (2011), the average victim will suffer 35 incidences before they actually report the matter to the police, suggesting that the violence has become insidious and requires difficult considerations regarding treatment.

Due to these differences, it is noted that a multiagency treatment approach is required, with treatment coming from a variety of different sets of circumstances and locations, including potentially targeting the victim, so that they can gain the necessary strength to remove themselves from the situation. Those responsible for domestic violence are perceived to be repeat offenders and the human behaviours associated with domestic violence are often associated with power shifts and can be linked to the nature of the relationship between the individuals, rather than being a direct and immediate violent situation that happens once and once only. Arguably, psychology plays as important a role in determining the appropriate treatment for domestic violence and therefore the various complexities and treatment options to deal with domestic violence are crucial to understand, in order to look at the best ways of dealing with this form of violence, in the future (Richard et al 2008).

Treatment of Domestic Violence

When looking at the notion of treatment within the context of any violent crime, there are several broader theories and issues that need to be considered, before being able to consider the effectiveness of the treatment in the area of domestic violence. There are, broadly speaking, four key areas of treatment available. The first is a biological intervention which includes medication for the perpetrator; secondly, there is psycho-analytical therapy which aims to get to the root of the problem and to analyse the reason for he violence. Thirdly, there is behavioural treatment such as aversion therapy which makes violence a non viable option for the perpetrator; and finally, there is the use of direct treatment such as anger management (Lewis 2004).

The treatment options for those involved in domestic violence have additional complexities associated with them. For example, in a violent crime such as aggravated burglary, the event is often a one off event, with the perpetrator aiming to get access to some item or goods and using violence as a means to an end. Domestic violence, however, is much more linked to the ongoing development of the relationships between the parties. Consideration has even been given to whether information should be made available where a perpetrator has a history of domestic violence, in order to prevent new partners from entering into domestic relations without full knowledge. This suggests that the government feels that the chances of successfully treating a perpetrator is remote and that it is, in fact, preferable to remove the victims or to warn off those who are likely to be future victims. This is also evident in the multi agency approach where there is a clear move towards using psychological and behavioural options through the use of social services and counsellors, rather than simply punishing a perpetrator, which may be a short term fix only (Hague and Marlos 2004).

Despite this, there is also a recognition that at times there is a need to remove the perpetrator immediately for the benefit of the wider family unit, such as children. Although this may not be seen as treatment, this is an immediate intervention that is required and can begin the formation of the treatment plan.

The main issue that becomes apparent in this area is that domestic violence seemingly goes far beyond the immediate criminal activity and as such the treatment must also span beyond the immediate criminal activity of the physical attack itself. Moreover, it is recognised that there is a variety of behavioural issues that are relevant to the committing of domestic violence. As such, treatment needs to look beyond the immediate issues and to consider what it is in the psychological make up of the perpetrator that encourages them to behave in this way. A cursory glance at the literature in this area suggests that there are a myriad of factors that are outside of the person that can lead to this type of violent conduct. For example, issues such as family background, economic position and level of education are all perceived to be relevant and therefore focussing the treatment on one aspect alone is unlikely to be successful (British Medical Association 1998).

Using domestic violence as an area of analysis for determining whether treatment can be effective in the area of criminal violence illustrates very clearly how the wider social and psychological factors will come into their own and need to be tackled, on a case by case basis, to be effective. The state will have its own agenda in this area and will need to act in such a way that punishes the perpetrator appropriately, so as to fit the crime. Despite this, it is still necessary for the state to consider the immediate issues when looking at the long term treatment. Rehabilitation and prevention are crucial, particularly within a domestic setting where there is the potential for self perpetuation, with children brought up in domestic violence situations being more likely to become involved in similar situations as adults (Klein et al 1997).



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Title: Treatment for Violent Individuals. History and Treatment of Domestic Violence