Advocacy for Changing Domestic Violence Law

USA Today Sports recently reported news about an investigation of NASCAR driver Curt Busch for allegedly becoming excessively violent with an ex-girlfriend. Patricia Driscoll filed charges about a violent and threatening act that she claims occurred on September 26th when Busch was upset after a poor qualifying run for the Sprint Cup elimination race.

Most people may be unaware that purple ribbons are to domestic violence and abuse, what pink ribbons are to breast cancer. The purple ribbon is not widely recognized as a symbol for domestic violence. Women from all walks of life, of all ages, of all races, and in all countries are subjected to abuse.

Professor Leigh Goodmark of the University of Maryland’s Carey Law, a member of the Maryland, District of Columbia and California bars, who specializes in domestic violence law has taught and written extensively on the subject. She believes laws regarding domestic violence need to be changed if our society is to effectively deal with the problem, to help those subjected to abuse as well as their children, and to find ways in the community to promote understanding and treatment to the abuser. We need to address society at large to find ways to effectively confront domestic violence. Research indicates that peer pressure in a community is a powerful influence. If your behavior is not acceptable to your friends and community at large, over time it will deter such criminal activity because we are all looking for connections with others. It’s part of human nature.

Desensitization to violence is frightening, and it permeates our society. Many of us turn a deaf ear to domestic violence, and the excuses for this are complicated and extensive. However, as Goodmark points out, instead of the legal system providing options for women who are subjected to domestic violence, it provides a predetermined procedure that must be adhered to, in which the woman has virtually no control or say. Women are infantilized and treated as if they are incapable of making decisions about their future and the future of their children. They must play the role of the weak and battered woman, if they wish to stand a chance for legal action to be taken on their behalf.

The view most people have of the “battered” woman has to change. Walking out of a relationship is an all-or-nothing option providing no consideration for the length of time the couple has been together, complicated emotions involved in the relationship such as love, dependence, attachment only to name a few of the extenuating circumstances. To think insisting the relationship come to an abrupt end without any consideration to all these other factors is basically ineffective and only serves to create an entirely new set of issues and problems for all those involved.

We must start somewhere. We need to admit that our present method for dealing with domestic violence and abuse is not working. If we put a community based rather than a justice system focus on domestic violence, we have a better chance of being successful because peer pressure and the universal need to be accepted  trumps any punitive law enforcement sanction, and takes a step towards prevention.

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