Hit me again, Ike
Jimmy is eight; Katie is five; and little Ashley is only three. Raised by their parents, Mark and Susan, everyone sees them as the perfect family. Mark is a stockbroker, Jimmy’s football coach, and Katie’s tee ball coach. Susan works in the home, where she is everyday when the kids get home from school. She attends every PTA meeting, and works in the school cafeteria once a week. They appear to be the perfect family. Under that facade, a deadly storm brews. No one sees the black and blue bruises Susan hides, or the numerous broken fingers and ribs she has had. Not all violence leaves marks, either. No one hears the nasty, hurtful words Mark calls her, or the tears of pain she cries each night. This is just one of many examples of domestic violence. Either physical, sexually, emotionally, or psychologically, abuse comes in all forms. “At least one in every three women had been beatenor otherwise abused during her lifetime.” (Family Violence Prevention Fund 1).
Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, can be defined as knowingly cause, attempt to cause, or threaten to cause harm or force to someone who is living within the same household and has an emotional relationship (i.e. Parent, child, spouse) or are pragmatically living together. (Bohm 249) Domestic violence can affect more than just the victim and the batterer. Children who grow up in families where violence occurs are more likely to demonstrate violence themselves or withdraw, having seen “daddy hit mommy.” Women who are battered tend to be emotional and have an increased chance of being depressed, anxious, or suicidal. Men, most commonly the abuser, often demonstrate jealousy, hypersensitivity, and threat of violence.
Until recently, officers suspecting domestic violence had to have concrete proof and probable cause. Now, officers can arrest anyone they suspect of domestic violence, with or without the victim’s consent. This is called a preferred arrest policy. In 2003, 25, 926 arrests for domestic violence were made. (ODVN 1). “Intimate partner violence made up 20% of all nonfatal violent crime experienced by women in 2001.” (DOJ 1). The increased incidences of domestic violence can be curtailed through three changes: harsher laws, reduced societal acceptance and more advocacy and awareness.
The most obvious way to reduce domestic violence is with harsher laws. Currently the law states that a person can not “knowingly cause or attempt to cause harm to a family or household member”, “recklessly cause serious physical harm to family or household member”, or via “threat of forceknowingly cause a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm” (Ohio Revised Code Sec. 2919.25-2919.27). The punishment for a violation of domestic violence would depend on which branch of the domestic violence law the offender broke. Most of the time, the officers will charger the offender with the most serious crime, often assault (possibly felonious) but with a domestic violence tag. The first offense can range from a first to a fifth degree misdemeanor and at worst, a fifth degree felony. Repeat offenses, while depending on the branch of domestic violence law that was broken, most likely result in a felony conviction. Few punishments exist for domestic violence offenders. Someone with a domestic violence conviction cannot own or carry a firearm. In addition to a nasty nickname, offenders must often seek anger management counseling and must abide by any temporary or civil protection orders. The law itself cannot be more stringent than it is already. However, the punishments could be more severe and used as a deterrent for offenders. First, longer jail times would be more effective. Rather than getting put on probation, offenders should be sentenced to time in jail. Also, offenders should be mandated to receive more counseling, anger management classes and community service in places where they can see what kind of fear them instill, like women’s shelter or state houses for children. In addition, the first conviction of domestic violence, whether convicted of domestic violence or a charge with a domestic violence tag, should be a felony. Rather than treat an abuser with kid gloves, he should be hit hard with punishments the first time around