Become an ally in safety
Don't forget to register to become an Ally in Safety.
As an Ally, you will be a leader in our community, advocating for domestic and sexual violence victims, armed with education materials to inform your department of ways to not only recognize victims, but to help them, too.
victims and Law Enforcement
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, NCADV, domestic violence accounts for 15% of the nations violent crimes, with a victim being physically abused every 20 minutes. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been, or are, victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence effects all races and socio-economic levels, both genders and all cultures.
1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in her or his lifetime. The majority of sexual attacks happen at, or near, the victim's home, with many of the victims being asleep when the attack started.
Reporting either crime to law enforcement is extremely difficult for the victim. The fear of retaliation or escalation of the violence if reported, the law enforcement officer not believing the victim's accounts of the event, or even the victim's own denial of what occurred can keep the victim from reporting the violence to the police.
leaders in Law Enforcement
Domestic violence calls can be one of the highest number of calls a law enforcement agency receives. It can also be one of the most dangerous for an officer to respond to. Using FBI statistics, one study estimated that between 1980 and 2006 a total of 113,236 officer assaults occurred at domestic violence calls in the U.S., and 160 officers died as a result of these assaults.This suggests an average of 4,194 officer assaults (and 6 officer murders) annually from domestic violence calls. Assaults at these calls are also very likely to result in an officer injury. Four studies examined officer assaults at domestic violence calls and revealed 46% of officers assaulted at one of these calls calls received an injury requiring medical treatment.*
It is essential for law enforcement officers to know as much as possible about the dynamics of domestic violence, the actions of the abusers and the potential reasons for the decisions victims make in order to keep everyone, including themselves, as safe as possible.
Types of Domestic Violence (Intimate Partner Violence)
Law Enforcement are key stakeholders in helping victims of domestic violence
Economic Abuse - When one intimate partner has control over the other partner's access to economic resources, which diminishes the victim's capacity to support him/herself and forces him/her to depend on the perpetrator financially.
Emotional Abuse - A myriad of tactics used to undermine someone’s sense of self-worth including criticism, name-calling, and denigration
Physical Abuse - Any intentional and unwanted physical act done toward a victim’s body. Physical abuse can include a wide range of behaviors, which include aggressive, offensive, and/or threatened actions.
Psychological Abuse - A person subjecting, or exposing, another person to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sexual Abuse - Unwanted sexual behavior done toward an individual, carried out with any body part or object. These are behaviors which the victim does not consent to engage in and that the offender commits without regard for the victim’s wants or rights. These behaviors could include forcing the victim into sexual acts, photographing or filming the victim in sexual acts without his or her consent, refusing to use prophylactic measures, and any other nonconsensual sexual behavior
Realistic dynamics of domestic violence
- It is not an isolated, individual event but rather a pattern of repeated behaviors
- Domestic violence effects every socioeconomic level, race, culture and religion
- There are different forms, including physical, sexual, psychological and economic
- While physical assaults might occur infrequently, other parts of the pattern can occur daily
- The abuser's intent is to control the victim's time and isolate her from her support system of family and friends who might question the abuser's actions
- The abuser might punish the children as a way to hurt the victim
- The abuser might threaten to kidnap or kill the children if the victim leaves him
- The abuser might hit the wall next to where the victim is standing or throw objects at her
- The abuser might harm pets to hurt and intimidate her
- The abuser might follow, threaten, harass and terrify his partner or ex-partner, especially after she has left or separated
Lethality Risk Assessment
Significant risk of lethality:
- The abuser has used a weapon to harm or threaten the victim
- The abuser has threatened to kill the victim
- The abuser has threatened to kill or harm the children
- The victim believes the abuser will try to kill him/her or the children
- The abuser has access to a gun
- The abuser has chocked the victim
- The abuser has tried to kill him/herself
- The abuser tracks or follows the victim, leaves threatening messages or spies on the victim
Realistic dynamics of sexual violence
- Most sexual assault victims are acquainted with the suspect(s) in some way, yet they rarely expect intimacy with the suspect(s).
- Many women are repeatedly victimized by rape and sexual assault.
- An estimated 2 out of 3 sexual assaults are not reported to law enforcement authorities, with men far less likely to report their sexual assault.
- Victims often delay reporting a sexual assault for days, weeks, months, or even years. Many never disclose to anyone, including their closest friends.
- The police are more likely to be notified of sexual assaults that are committed by strangers than nonstrangers.
- Only 11% of perpetrators use a weapon during the attack. Instead, they use the victim's confusion, shame, and embarrassment to keep them silent.
- Victims rarely report the assault to the police first. Rather, many victims come to the attention of law enforcement through other organizations or healthcare professionals.
- Few victims are injured to the point that emergency medical attention is needed.
- Alcohol and drugs are involved in a high percentage of sexual assaults.
- Victims often lie about some of the specific circumstances of the sexual assault because they fear that their actions may have contributed to the sexual assault, or that they won't be believed if their case doesn't fit the societal stereotype of sexual assault.
Victim survival strategies
Normalizing/Acceptance: Victims can either convince themselves or believe that the actions of the abuser is normal. Whether this is because the victim grew up in a violent household or the victim hasn't experienced a healthy relationship in the past.
Denial: Sometimes a victim will hide the abuser's violent behaviors from both themselves and the outside world. This may be due to shame of the situation or for fear of the behaviors escalating if someone finds out.
Keeping the peace: Victims often do their best to appease the abusers by agreeing to things they don't want to do, attempting to anticipate abusers' wants and needs and following abusers' rules, regardless of the rule.
Blaming themselves: Abusers often manipulate their partners' thinking to the point victims often believe violence is due to their actions. Victims often berate themselves for not being a better partner, for not doing more to make the abusers happy, and believe the abuser is their faults.
Using drugs or alcohol: Some victims turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain and fear they live with in their daily lives.
types of sexual violence
Sexual Harassment- unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature in the workplace or learning environment. Sexual harassment does not always have to be specifically about sexual behavior or directed at a specific person.
Multiple-Perpetrator Sexual Assault- sometimes called gang rape, occurs when two or more perpetrators act together to sexually assault the same victim. Some common aspects of multiple-perpetrator assault include:
- Beginning as a consensual activity and introducing others to participate against the victim’s will or without consent
- Planning the assault in advance
- Targeting a victim that has an existing connection with one of the perpetrators, often sexual in nature
Incest-sexual violence where the perpetrator and victim are related.
Rape-unlawful sexual activity, and usually sexual intercourse, carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against a person's will or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception.
Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault-sexual violence that occurs when alcohol or drugs are used to compromise an individual's ability to consent to sexual activity.
Intimate Partner Sexual Violence-sexual violence that occurs in a romantic relationship, including rape. Also called spousal rape, intimate partner rape, marital rape.
Child Sexual Abuse-also called child molestation, is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. The perpetrator may or may not be related to the victim.
Officers on the scene of a call
When police arrive on scene they are trained to seek out individuals who are calm and capable of providing information. As would be expected, victims are often extremely fearful, emotional, and, sometimes highly reactive.
The perpetrator often appears to be the one “in control” and “capable” of providing the most immediately needed information. They are usually “eager” to talk to the police whereas the victim is afraid that if they do, they will be punished for it later, making them “uncooperative.” The abuser often explains the victims behavior as “crazy,” “mentally unstable,” “combative”.
Sometimes the abuser has already manipulated the system by seeking a protective order and/or legal assistance, creating a conflict of interest that prohibits the victim from accessing those services.
Ways officers can aid victims at calls**
Officers may experience frustrations at domestic violence calls such as a victim not want to report, or even leave the abuser, or not being able to arrest, or remove, the abuser. Knowing that the victim could still be in danger, but not being able to protect the person, can cause worry and stress for an officer. There are a few things an officer can do to help the victim:
- Ensure the victim understands the lethality risk assessment results and the danger it may be identifying
- Discuss keeping a stalking log or an incident log with the victim, if applicable
- Provide victim with Hope Alliance's information, or another crisis center in their area
- Inform the victim about how to obtain a protective order, if applicable
- Discuss crime victim compensation, arrest decisions and victim's rights
- Provide the case number and the information of the officer that will be doing the follow-up
- Inform the victim when the abuser when the abuser will be released, if an arrest was made
- Let the victim know about any court dates to expect
Information obtained from the following sites: