Articles Posted in Domestic Violence defense

holday-domestic-violence-300x200While most of us like to think of the holiday season as the happiest and most joyous time of the year, for many of us, it can also be one of the most stressful. According to studies, nearly 40 percent of us report an increase in stress during the holidays. Unfortunately, stress can also be a trigger for domestic violence among vulnerable families. Between a hotly contested election, economic woes, and the ongoing pandemic, this year’s holiday season promises to be more stressful than most.

All of these factors may strike a note of concern for you, especially if you’ve previously been arrested on domestic violence charges or have general trouble with anger management. What can you do now to keep your stress manageable? What steps can you take proactively to keep any holiday tensions from escalating into a very bad situation?

Looking at the Numbers…

DV-in-BIPOC-community-300x200On October 19, activists held a rally in Leimert Park in South Los Angeles to raise awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence among the BIPOC community (Black, Indigenous and People of Color). The event, hosted by a partnership of Black justice organizations collectively known as #Standing4BlackGirls, coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, recognized every October for decades.

While domestic violence respects no color and can impact people of every ethnicity, it has been widely documented that the BIPOC community seems to be affected disproportionately compared to whites, especially in America. Extensive research has been done to explore the reasons for this, and while some answers are easy to document, other explanations remain elusive or speculative. Let’s discuss this question in a bit more detail to see what we can learn.

Breaking Down the Numbers

domestic-violence-mental-illness-300x200The presumed link between mental illness and violence is a hot-button topic these days—and to the chagrin of many mental health professionals, this connection seems to add to the stigma of those who suffer from various types of mental illness. There are likely two reasons why this connection has been made, at least in the arena of public belief. First, we’ve seen numerous high-profile violent crimes in recent years (most notably related to gun violence and/or mass shootings) that have been attributed with people who have been diagnosed with severe mental illness. And second, many acts of violence are so senseless that we naturally begin looking for a reason why they might have occurred. (In other words, when a violent act appears to be insane, we generally blame it on insanity.)

This idea also raises an important question among couples and families: Can mental illness be a contributing factor or trigger mechanism for domestic violence? Put another way, can we blame an act of domestic violence on mental illness? For that matter, if so, could mental illness be used as a successful defense against domestic violence charges? Let’s explore this question in a bit more detail, looking at the latest science and research while unpacking some of the myths surrounding this question.

The Short Answer Is Yes—But It’s Far More Seldom than You Think

remote-learning-domestic-violence-300x200News reports across the board continue to confirm: Domestic violence is on the rise around the world, largely owing to the ongoing pandemic. Between lockdowns and quarantines, more time spent at home, rising unemployment and numerous other triggering factors, many households have become a tinder box for escalating tensions, which sometimes lead to violence.

One of the many possible aggravating factors for increased tensions at home is the fact that the children have now been stuck at home for months—andfor many, this trend shows no signs of ending anytime soon. Despite ongoing pressure from Washington for local schools to open this fall, many communities are choosing either to start the semesters with remote classes or to implement a hybrid model combining in-person and remote learning. In either case, the children will continue to spend more time at home.

This fact is raising concerns among advocacy groups as there is evidence that some children are particularly at risk for increased abuse at home during this time. For some proponents of reopening schools, their main argument for doing so is their concerns for the children at risk from staying at home. Since many of us will be dealing with some form of remote learning in the coming months, let’s explore in more detail how home education may be increasing the risks for domestic violence. More to the point, if you are experiencing increased stress from remote learning that may put your household at risk, let’s talk about some ways you can diffuse the tension and protect your household.

DV-attorney-defense-Los-Angeles-2-300x200For many years, psychologists, healthcare professionals, and researchers alike have been exploring the underlying causes and factors of domestic violence. To that end, the connection between domestic violence and substance abuse has been well-documented. Repeated studies typically report that between 40 and 60 percent of domestic violence cases involve some sort of substance abuse (i.e., alcohol and illicit drugs). The Addiction Center makes an even steeper claim, saying that nearly 80 percent of domestic violence crimes involve drug use—and one study puts the number as high as 92 percent.

But what about prescription drugs? What about medicines that doctors and the general public typically think of as “safe” when taken correctly? Can there be a link between these medications and domestic violence, as well?

As it turns out, a growing body of evidence strongly suggests that even prescription meds and other legal drugs (not including alcohol) can increase the risk of violence in the home. Let’s discuss some of the drugs most commonly associated with DV and explore the connection in a bit more detail.

Los-Angeles-domestic-violence-defense-June-2020-2-300x200If you want a tongue-in-cheek look at how public attitudes about domestic violence have changed over time, take a couple of hours and watch the classic film The Quiet Man (1952), starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Set in rural Ireland, this John Ford film takes a humorous (but admittedly politically incorrect) look at the volatile dynamic in husband-wife relationships. It’s almost jarring today to see the various ways the characters in the film “wink the eye” at domestic violence in the movie. At one point during the main characters’ courtship, their chaperone quips to O’Hara’s character, Mary Kate: “Have the good manners not to hit the man until he’s your husband and entitled to hit you back.” During the climax of the film, while Wayne’s character Sean Thornton hauls Mary Kate by arm across the Irish countryside with a crowd following, one of the villagers courteously hands Thornton a stick “to beat the lovely lady.”

Perhaps just as telling is Maureen O’Hara’s description of what happened to her behind the scenes while shooting the film. In a noteworthy commentary, O’Hara claims she literally broke her wrist when John Wayne blocked a punch during one scene, and she had to finish the scene in piercing pain. She also claims that during the climactic scene described earlier, her character was supposed to stumble and have Wayne drag her face-first through the dirt—except that Wayne and the director had filled the spot with sheep dung as a “practical joke.”

While these antics (both on and off-screen) would be considered completely inappropriate today, they underscore how much public views of domestic violence have changed across several generations. In truth, domestic violence has been a blight on human culture for many centuries—the main thing that changes is how permissive society is toward it. Looking back just a few decades, it can be surprising to see how much women, in particular, were subjected to in earlier times, and how much they were simply expected to put up with as “the way things were.” Even our grandparents and great-grandparents likely had a different view of domestic violence than we do today. Let’s launch into a deeper look at how earlier generations looked at this issue in Western culture (i.e., Europe and the Americas), both to see how far we’ve come and what we may have yet to learn.

Quarantine-300x200If you ask many people whether there’s a silver lining behind the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, they might tell you that quarantining at home has given them a chance to stop and re-evaluate their priorities, to spend more quality time with family and loved ones, to focus on self-care and self-improvement, or any of a handful of other platitudes. And certainly, for many of us, the stay-at-home orders have given us a chance to recalibrate our lives in some way.

But being quarantined with family isn’t a “silver lining” for everyone. For some households, being cooped up in close quarters can turn toxic—especially if there are unresolved issues involved. For many, things have even turned violent, as demonstrated by a significant spike in the number of domestic violence incidents reported during this time.

What do you do if you were in the second group—the one where quarantining triggered toxic behavior? Perhaps a discussion devolved into an argument and things got out of hand. Maybe you have found yourself arrested and separated from family on an accusation of domestic violence. Where is the “silver lining” in that kind of situation?

covid-domestic-abuse-300x200Quite often, domestic violence is framed either in the sterile context of criminology and statistics or in the raw context of our own emotions. The reality lies somewhere between these extremes. If we look past the crime itself, past the numbers, and past our own offense, we can see that domestic violence occurs in real families with actual people and complex emotions—people who often don’t even understand what triggers their behavior. For many households, the quarantines and lockdowns prompted by COVID-19 are making these triggers even more sensitive, prompting an increase in the rate of domestic violence across the globe.

We’ve already talked about some of the numbers and factors behind this increase in DV during the pandemic. Now, let’s talk about the human factor—the increased pressures caused by this situation which may serve as triggers, and how families can respond to reduce the risk and perhaps prevent outbreaks of domestic violence in the home.

Common Triggers of Domestic Violence During Lockdown

Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-2-300x200In 2014, noted female soccer star Hope Solo was arrested and charged with two counts of domestic violence assault charges against her half-sister and 17-year-old nephew. That same year, singer Solange (sister of Beyoncé Knowles) was caught on video violently attacking her brother-in-law Jay-Z.

These stories grab our attention, not just because of the celebrities involved, but because they point out the rare occasions in which we hear about women committing some sort of domestic abuse.

When we think about domestic violence, we typically presume the perpetrator is a man and the victim is a woman. And with good reason: The overwhelming majority of DV cases involve a male perpetrator and a female victim. However, some women can be as violent as men when it comes to their relationships, and some believe the number of women who commit domestic violence is significantly underreported. Let’s take an overview of this often-overlooked issue to see what we can learn.

In 2006, a sexual abuse survivor named Tarana Burke launched a grassroots movement to help give other survivors a voice and a sense of community, as well as to raise awareness to prevent future incidents of sexual violence. To create a sense of solidarity, she aptly named her initiative the “Me Too” movement.

Eleven years later, the #MeToo movement was suddenly thrust into the international conversation when the New York Times published an article alleging a longtime pattern of sexual abuse by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. As the #MeToo hashtag went viral across social media, millions of victimized women found a fresh sense of empowerment, and millions of the rest of us were dismayed to discover just how many of our sisters, wives, and friends had quietly endured various forms of sexual harassment and abuse over the years.

As more allegations came to light and more high-profile public figures went down in disgrace (over 200 by the last count), it became clear that this movement would spearhead a cultural shift—not just regarding incidents of overt sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace and otherwise, but also redefining what was considered appropriate behavior and conversation, particularly in the workplace. While many celebrated the shift as ushering in a long-overdue era of female empowerment, others were left in a state of confusion as seemingly innocent flirtations and the occasional off-color joke, once assumed to be harmless, were now looked upon as offensive. Many began second-guessing their every interaction with the opposite sex and grappling to figure out what was acceptable in the “new normal.” Still others feared the movement might swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction, endangering the careers of innocent individuals on the power of unsubstantiated testimonies and creating the assumption of guilt until innocence was proven.

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