The Justice System Continues To Fail Domestic Violence Victims

Our criminal justice system is incredibly tainted.

Victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse resonate with this struggle too often. Flaws in the system go beyond family law cases, but if I went through every strain of legal delegation, we would be here for an eternity. Because it is Domestic Violence Awareness Month it only seems fair to focus on that, even for just a moment.

From the wrongly accused getting put away to letting the unlawful walk, the U.S. court system keeps letting us down. I’ve been hearing about wrong-doers get away with their criminal actions since before I knew O.J. stood for Orenthal James.

When did a fair trial become something hoped for or out of reach?

When did crimes not have enough value to make it to trial? In domestic abuse cases, suspects are arrested on the spot. If charges are pressed against the suspect, police MAY send it to the District Attorney’s Office for review. Once the case is in their hands they either charge the criminal case or decline it. Once it’s declined, it’s over. Most of the time, if not all the time, domestic violence cases are declined simply because there were no witnesses present when the abuse occurred.

Does the court not know that most domestic abuse happens in the privacy of homes? I’m not a lawyer or anything remotely close. I’m only speaking from personal experience. Unfortunately, I’m all too familiar with this. I’ve witnessed the unfairness of the court firsthand and I am completely and utterly disappointed.

Whoever said, “justice is served” must have lived in some alternate universe because I haven’t seen much of that lately. 

The system is flawed, and that is truer than true. Is it altogether wrong or a complete and total sham? Maybe not. Still, it’s closer to a complete joke than something substantial.

Too many cases go unnoticed unless they land in a pile of obituaries. In the U.S. nearly three women are killed every day by their intimate partner. My story isn’t as bad as others, but that might have just been dumb luck.

Being the bitch that he was, my ex-boyfriend physically assaulted me. Luckily I was able to fight back. When I called the police, he was arrested on the spot. However, that wasn’t enough. My story, my trauma, and my physical pain did not matter in the eyes of the law. No witnesses? No case.

Just like that, there was nothing else I could do… for now. (Believe me, I’m not going out without a fight.)

Men have mistreated, abused, and taken advantage of their wives or significant others for a very long time. The abuse of wives in intimate relationships was perceived as “normal” throughout history. It wasn’t until the 70’s that domestic violence was deemed a true crime.

Domestic violence has been tossed aside as if it was some giant burden. Yes, it’s considered a violation of the law, but it usually ends there. Most of these cases are just another number in the stack. How could anyone call that progress?

Since the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, there has been little evidence that violence against women has dramatically declined.

Research shows few women report domestic violence. Of the few arrested for domestic violence, even less are convicted. Even when abusers are convicted, jail time is rare or minimal. Sociologist Evan Stark argues that the odds of going to jail for domestic violence are only slightly higher than the odds of winning the lottery.

Law enforcement and criminal justice might have been founded on patriarchal traits like retribution and subjugation, but that does not mean it was ever morally correct. Victims of domestic violence are constantly let down by the criminal justice system which fails to hold abusers accountable for their violent behavior.

Spreading awareness about this issue is so incredibly important.

We need to talk about domestic violence and how the criminal justice system does not protect victims of abuse. Abuse revolves around power and control. This only means we should empower each other to make the best decisions independently. Openly discussing this creates the opportunity for more victims to share their stories and to leave a dangerous situation before it’s too late. Only together will our voices be heard.

 

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