Tapati (tapati) wrote,

Common Sense Applied to Domestic Violence: Protecting Women Who Leave

Massachusetts’ Simple Solution for Preventing Domestic Homicide

This is genius! Excerpt:

How do they do it? They take the details of each reported case of abuse, looking at risk factors like stalking and chronic unemployment, and rate each abuser on a point system for how violent and controlling he is. Men who are rated high are then subject to heightened risk monitoring, and their victims are given extra resources to stay safe. If the abusers start acting up, they can have their child visitations terminated or be made to wear GPS trackers. They may even be put in jail or in a psychiatric hospital for violating probation or restraining orders—courtesy of a preventive detention program that was mostly used to prevent gang or drug violence in the past, a program that gives the government leeway to restrain you even if your behavior otherwise falls short of the threshold to charge you with further crimes.

The system works in no small part because it turns the logic of an abusive relationship on its head. The abuser works by making the victim feel like she will never be free of him, his violence, and his surveillance. If she tries to leave, he escalates. If she gets a new boyfriend, he escalates. The idea is to make her feel like her choices are to submit or to live in terror. The high-risk teams shift the burden of being surveilled from the victim to the abuser. Now, if he makes a threat, Massachusetts has the power to escalate. If he uses visitation time to attack her or her children, Massachusetts restricts visitation. Now he's the one who has to make his decisions with the understanding that someone with power can further restrict his movements and his ability to live freely. Abusers often victimize for years before taking things to the level of a serious beating or murder. By restricting movements in the early stages, it appears that the program helps keep abusers from getting to that point.

It's such a simple principle, and one that hopefully other states will pick up on: The person who should pay for the abusive relationship should be the perpetrator, not the victim. It's not just the fair and moral way, but it also seems to be more effective.

I know I was afraid to leave. How many women will be encouraged to end their abusive marriage now that there are systems in place to help them remain safe? A lot more, I imagine.
Tags: abuse, children, crime, domestic violence, murder, stalker, women

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