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    Cases of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

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    The prosecutor is getting feedback from local law enforcement explaining that they are discouraged about making arrests in cases of domestic violence and child abuse. They claim that they have been either not making arrests in domestic violence situations or arresting both parties when they go out on a call. It seems that abused women often go back to the abusers, and children who get removed from the homes where they have been abused often return after removal. These occurrences have been especially demoralizing to law enforcement.

    One of your jobs in working as a victim witness assistant is to help educate law enforcement on the nature and behaviors involved in domestic violence and child abuse. The prosecutor's office has decided that you should present each of these topics for the next training session:

    Topic 1 - Domestic violence: Your goal is to educate law enforcement to use best practices in the investigation of domestic abuse cases. Include the following topics:

    --How to approach a domestic violence situation when responding to an emergency call

    ---When the parties should be separated
    ---How to interview parties
    ---What information needs to be in the report and why
    ---How best to help a victim
    ---What laws protect victims, including the use of protection orders
    ---Why victims return to abusers
    ---Length of time it may take to stay away from their abusers


    ---The legal standard needed to make an arrest in a domestic violence case
    ---What evidence should be collected at the arrest
    ---Are dual arrests effective law enforcement?
    ---How to assist domestic violence victims
    ---Reluctant victims
    ---Help for victims

    Topic 2 - Child Abuse: Your goal will be to educate law enforcement about the dynamics of abuse and neglect cases. Include the following topics:

    --Signs of child abuse and categories (physical, sexual, emotional)
    --Difference between abuse and neglect
    --Legal description of neglect
    --Use of guardian ad litems
    --The legal standards that must be met in removal from the home
    --Termination of parental rights
    --Requirements of Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
    --Role of court-appointed special advocates (CASA) in child abuse and neglect cases
    --Role of social services in abuse and neglect cases

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    Topic 1 - Domestic violence: Your goal is to educate law enforcement to use best practices in the investigation of domestic abuse cases. Include the following topics:

    Domestic violence occurs when a family member, partner or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate another. Domestic violence often refers to violence between spouses, or spousal abuse but can also include cohabitants and non-married intimate partners. Domestic violence occurs in all cultures; people of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexes and classes can be perpetrators of domestic violence. Domestic violence is perpetrated by both men and women. http://www.hg.org/domestic-violence.html

    Domestic violence can be defined "as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone?http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/domviolence.htm

    Domestic violence occurs where a family or household member commits or attempts to commit the following types of offenses against another:
    1. Bodily injury or threat of imminent bodily injury;
    2. Sexual battery;
    3. Physical restraint;
    4. A property crime directed at the victim;
    5. Violation of a court protection order or similar court injunction; or
    6. Death. http://www.mopca.com/members/documents/vol1/moddomes.txt

    * Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair-pulling, biting, etc. Physical abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use.

    * Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.

    * Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one's abilities, name-calling, or damaging one's relationship with his or her children.

    *Economic Abuse: Making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one's access to money, or forbidding one's attendance at school or employment.

    *Psychological Abuse: Causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work. http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/domviolence.htm

    1.How to approach a domestic violence situation when responding to an emergency call

    The primary objectives in responding to reports of domestic violence are to de-escalate violent situations, to avoid officer injury, to reduce the number of repeat calls, to enforce the laws against violators, and to facilitate prosecution where applicable. http://www.bolingbrook.com/index.php?page_id=35

    The patrol officers must restore order and conduct a thorough on-scene investigation. If the investigation establishes probable cause that a crime has been committed, the officers may make an arrest. In both arrest and non-arrest situations, the responding officers will do all that they can to help the victim, the offender, and any family members involved. The investigating detective will conduct a follow-up evaluation of the incident report and conduct any additional interviews or evidence gathering required to complete the investigation.

    When responding to a family violence call, the officers shall

    * Physically separate parties involved in domestic violence.
    * store order by gaining control of the situation.
    * Take control of all weapons used or threatened to be used in the crime.
    * Assess the need for medical attention and call for medical assistance if indicated.
    * Interview all parties, separately from abuser.
    * Collect and record evidence and, where appropriate, take color photographs of injuries and property damage.
    * Complete appropriate crime or incident reports necessary to fully document the officer's response, whether or not a crime was committed or an arrest made.
    * Give the victim a copy of the incident report number.
    * If the offender has left the scene and a crime has been committed, the officers will do the following:

    o Search the immediate area if potentially worthwhile;
    o Obtain information from victims and witnesses as to where the offender might be;
    o Seek an arrest warrant, and
    o Refer the matter to the investigative unit. http://www.mopca.com/members/documents/vol1/moddomes.txt

    2. When the parties should be separated

    * Parties should be separated every time.

    3. How to interview parties

    * Ensure each party is spoken to separately (speak to the victim and/or any children independently, in a place where the suspect cannot overhear, to allow them to talk more freely);
    * Explain the investigation processes and procedures to the victim and/or any witnesses and make it clear that the police take these matters seriously;
    * Explain that support is available for the victim or witness;
    * Obtain a first account as soon as practicable after the event, when the witness may be most able to recall the incident.
    * Take the victim or other witnesses to a neutral place if appropriate (consider the use of police victim suites, if available) as this may help to reassure the witness and improve the quality of evidence likely to be obtained;
    * If a victim is taken to a refuge or other place of safety, never disclose this to the suspect, as this further endangers the victim and may result in the suspect harassing the victim, refuge staff or other family members;
    * Brief interviewing officers of lines of questioning if the suspect is to be formally interviewed later by a different officer.

    4. What information needs to be in the report and why

    * Record first accounts given by witnesses, especially those relating to suspect descriptions (these may prove to be a most reliable source of information as they are made with the incident still fresh in their minds);
    * Make an accurate record of everything that is said by all parties;
    * Take the victim or other witnesses to a neutral place if appropriate (consider the use of police victim suites, if available) as this may help to reassure the witness and improve the quality of evidence likely to be obtained;
    * Make an accurate record of everything that is said by all parties;
    * Consider video recording or audio-taping the first account from the victim and/or witnesses in serious cases and cases with vulnerable or intimidated witnesses;
    * Preserve any written notes made during initial victim or witness interviews in line with the law and in relation to unused material;

    Any identification of the following should be clearly recorded and included within the investigative process.

    1. Previous physical assault by the suspect
    Previous assault is one of the most established risk factors in terms of future assault. Suspects with a history of violence against women present a particularly high risk. Abuse of animals by the suspect may also indicate a risk of future violence.

    2. Previous sexual assault by the suspect
    This is a risk factor for future violence and for serious violence. The injuries sustained by domestic sexual assault victims are often more serious than those experienced in sexual assaults by strangers.

    3. Escalation and severity of violence, including use of weapons and attempts at strangulation
    A common antecedent to domestic homicide is escalating domestic violence but this is not always the case. Violence may previously have remained at a constant level and resulted in homicide. It is important that escalating violence, including the use of weapons and attempts at strangulation, is recorded for the purposes of assessing risk. Strangulation or choking and stabbing are common methods of killing in domestic homicides. Research evidence shows that often a variety of household objects are used as weapons, as are the hands.

    4. Child abuse by the suspect
    Concurrent child abuse and adult domestic violence is common. Antecedents to domestic homicide often include a history of child abuse and a history of adult domestic violence in the family. It is for this reason that automatic screening for domestic violence in all child abuse cases and vice versa is required.

    5. Suspect's possessiveness, jealousy or stalking behavior
    Possessiveness, jealousy and stalking behaviour include following the victim, unwanted attention, persistent telephone calls, visits, sending text messages and letters. A large proportion of harassment and stalking cases involve former partners and there are clear links between this behaviour and subsequent domestic violence assaults and domestic homicide by men against women.

    6. Threats or attempts to commit suicide by the suspect
    Threats by a suspect to commit suicide have been highlighted as a factor in domestic homicide and child homicide. A person who is suicidal should also be considered homicidal.

    7. Threats or fantasies of committing homicide by the suspect
    Threats or fantasies of committing homicide are a risk factor for subsequent violence including homicide of a family member.

    8. Previous criminality or breach of civil or criminal court order or bail conditions by the suspect
    Past breach of a criminal or civil court order or of bail conditions and/or a history of criminal behaviour suggest that a domestic violence suspect is a high risk. Suspects who leave the scene of a domestic violence incident before the police arrive may also have a higher recidivism rate than those who remain. This might be explained by their lack of
    sanction by the criminal justice system. In such cases every effort should be made to locate the suspect and carry out a full investigation into the incident.

    9. Suspect's psychological and emotional abuse of the victim (including denial or minimization of violence)
    Studies of abusers suggest that psychological and emotional abuse, in particular dominance and isolation of the victim and others, is a useful variable in predicting repeat and severe violence. Men who also sexually and physically assault their partners have been found to be particularly dangerous.

    10. Suspect's misuse of illegal or prescription drugs and/or alcohol or mental health problems
    While it is clear from research that the ...

    Solution Summary

    This solution addresses the topics for each each of the two topics: domestic violence and child abuse. Related to domestic violence, this solution addresses several topics with the goal to educate law enforcement to use best practices in the investigation of domestic abuse cases. Related to child abuse, it examines the topics listed above that are related to the goal of educating law enforcement about the dynamics of abuse and neglect cases.