Victimology and Domestic Violence

Introduction

According to Tawlar (2006) domestic violence is any assault, battery, sexual assault or criminal offense resulting in injury or death caused by a family or household member who lives or used to live in the same dwelling unit. This household or family member can be a spouse, partner ex-spouse or ex-partner. One of the victims in this scenario is Jessica, who was sexually assaulted by her ex-boyfriend. She might be victimized through the Criminal Justice system because it subjects the victim to a lot of distress before the trial and post-trial period.

Jessica first experienced psychological and emotional abuse before the assault and after the ordeal. Most rape victims wonder what they did wrong to deserve the assault or rape. Before James raped her he had put off the lights and locked the door as he approached her on the couch. This must have been a traumatizing moment for her as she contemplated what he could do. The emotional and psychological abuse is caused by the break of trust by someone that was not supposed to hurt her (Geffner et al., 1997).

Causes of victimization

In this scenario, the victimization is caused by the sexual assault and by the criminal justice system as it tries to establish whether she was raped or it was consensual. If the case goes to trial Jessica is subjected to reliving the rape and having her sex life analyzed in public. Various experts and researchers have tried to explain the causes of sexual assault with various theories. The Benjamin and Masters threefold theory shows the conditions that might have caused and supported the crime. They are attracting, precipitating and predisposing factors. The attracting factors are based on lifestyle and daily routine.

James and Jessica had dated for a while and he, therefore, knew her schedule and he was able to time his visit to coincide with the time that she would be home. The predisposition factors were the fact that she lived alone and this allowed him to assault her like there was no one in the house to stop him. There are various patterns and characteristics commonly associated with victims in the criminal justice system. They may be characterized by the victims blaming themselves for the assault and wondering how they would have prevented it. They suffer low self-esteem ad may have feelings of shame and guilt about the rape and this affects the evidence they are likely to give.

Law enforcement and the criminal justice system

As a law enforcement officer, my first duty on arrival at the scene is to make sure that the victim is safe and out of harm’s way as we try locating the assailant. James may have realized that Jessica called for help and may attempt to escape. With the help of other law enforcement agencies, we can place him under surveillance. A warrant for his arrest should be issued to apprehend him so he can also help establish what has happened. In this scenario the police helped by securing the crime scene where all evidence is collected through photographs, collection of fiber or hair samples, and interviews from the victim or witnesses. A medical practitioner should also examine Jessica for injuries and collect semen samples if any. She may need to be taken to a medical facility for post-rape treatment and tests. A law enforcement officer should accompany her to the hospital and keep watch over her till the assailant has been apprehended. It is the duty of the law enforcement officers in such a scenario to offer referral services to the victims where they can get direct assistance, for example, domestic violence programs or victims’ services.

In case the offender is apprehended and there is pre-trial release law enforcement should alert the victim and offer the necessary help to ensure that he does not assault her again. The prosecutors’ office can make sure that he does not get bail or issue a restraining order to protect Jessica from James. He might try to come to see her and try to convince her to drop the charges. During the prosecution process the prosecuting and law enforcement officers can help the victim by securing a speedy trial for the crime to enable the healing the victim to heal and the punishment of the offender to be immediate. Law enforcement officers have a duty to ensure that the victim receives the necessary help to cope with the situation also ensure that the offender if found guilty is punished for his crimes through various programs in the correctional facilities. This process should ensure the reformation of the offender and prepare him for reintegration into society in case paroled. In a parole hearing the victim should be informed and if necessary appear before the board before James can be released.

Consequences of Victimization in this scenario

According to Doerner & Lab (2009) the victim goes through three stages of crisis reaction which are impact, recoil, and reorganization; the first stage of impact is characterized by shock and distress. The victim may show anger, outrage and blame themselves for the assault. The recoil stage involves the victim coming to terms with the violation and may undergo post-traumatic stress disorder. This is characterized by nightmares and flashbacks of the assault, lack of responsiveness, and disassociation with things or people that remind her of the rape. A lot of victims develop depression, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. The last stage is reorganization where the victim has sorted out her feelings towards the rape and has placed it into perspective. The victim is no longer preoccupied with the trauma and makes steps to move on with their lives. One can never heal but with the right help, they are able to pick the pieces and move on towards healing.

Organizations that assist sexual assault victims

Various organizations help sexual assault victims by offering them various services. They involve counseling, legal services, resources to prevent an assault from happening and shelter. Some of those organizations are the Office on Violence against Women, the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, and the American Academy of Experts in trauma stress. The biggest challenge that they face is that most women in abusive relationships do not seek help until it is too late or the impact is deeper. As much as they provide resources most women are not able to use them due to the fear instilled by their abuser.

It is possible to prevent victimization like in this scenario from happening. This is through awareness creation on what to do in case an assault happens and learning the risk factors that make her prevalence for sexual assault. There is nothing that law enforcement would have done to prevent Jessica from being raped if there was no prior report of violence to the police. The victim did not succeed in preventing the victimization but I think she could have prevented the assault. If James was violent with her before she should never have agreed to meet alone in her house. When he showed up she should have gone to a public area to avoid being alone with him.

References

Doerner, W. G. & Lab, S.P. (2011). Victimology (6th Ed). Elsevier Inc: Massachusetts.

Geffner, R., Sorenson, S. & Lunderberg-love, P.K. (1997). Violence and sexual abuse at home: Current issues in spousal battering and child maltreatment. Halworth Maltreatment and Trauma press: New York.

Tawlar, P. (2006).Victimology. Isha books: New Delhi.

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