Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges

Published June 2009

Chapter 1. Overview of Domestic Violence

Section 7 — How widespread are multiple forms of domestic violence against the same victims?

Analysis of NVAWS data revealed that 18 percent of the women who experienced abuse experienced systemic abuse, meaning they were likely to suffer physical attacks (with and without weapons) and strangulation; of these women, 24.4 percent also experienced sexual assault, and 47.8 percent experienced stalking. [153] A study of dating violence similarly found substantial overlap between physical and sexual victimization. [222]

Implications for Law Enforcement

A full investigation may indicate additional, even more serious incidents of domestic violence than the one to which the law enforcement officers respond. (Research basis: A national survey and a five-year longitudinal study of college students from schools that were considered representative of state colleges attended by 80 percent of all U.S. college students.)

Implications for Prosecutors

A post-arrest investigation by the prosecutor may indicate additional, even more serious incidents of domestic violence than the one specifically noted by law enforcement officers. Rarely does the reported abuse incident represent a single isolated, atypical act. Appropriate charges should be filed that cover the range of criminal behaviors of abusers. In light of the United State's Supreme Court case, Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), and its increased demand for live victim testimony, prosecutors must work with law enforcement to uncover any evidence of abuser intimidation of victims that would inhibit the victim's testimony. Such evidence may also be used in preparing victim impact statements. (Research basis: A national survey and a five-year longitudinal study of college students from school considered representative of state colleges attended by 80 percent of all U.S. college students.

Implications for Judges

Although called upon to respond to discrete criminal charges, judges must insist that they receive sufficient information to reveal any pattern of systemic, abusive behaviors in order to accurately understand the victim's vulnerability. (Research basis: A national survey and a five-year longitudinal study of college students from school considered representative of state colleges attended by 80 percent of all U.S. college students.)

Date Created: June 5, 2009