Domestic abuse is a thread of violence that is very often misunderstood. Abuse victims face many challenges when attempting to leave an abusive relationship. This is often-time overlooked by family members, social workers, law enforcement, and other support and advocacy systems. The role that domestic abuse plays on incarcerated, or newly-released domestic abuse victims, is just one of the many crucial aspects that we must understand in order to better serve the needs of this particular demographic.
Repeat Offenders and Assistance
First off, it is important to note the relationship between domestic abuse and incarceration. The vast majority of domestic abuse victims did time for crimes related to property, drugs, and prostitution. Upon being released, they may be on probation or parole, making them vulnerable to their abuser’s threats to comply to his demands or be sent back to prison. Even so, many shelters and prosecutor’s offices may deny them protective order assistance. This type of assistance can be crucial in determining the likelihood that they will become repeat offenders. It can also help lower the level of intimidation abuse victims with a past criminal record may likely feel when being back in a courtroom again.
A Vicious Circle
Another factor to consider is that incarcerated, or newly-released abuse victims do not have very many social and support systems. Therefore, they may be forced by their parole officers to go back to their previous home, if it appears to be a stable environment. This is done without taking into consideration that the abuser might still be present. On top of that, if the domestic abuse victim is being released after talking fault for crimes that the abuser committed, the abuser can continue to harass the victim into a life of crime.
Leaving an abusive partner seems like the logical thing to do. However, many times it is easier said than done. There are many reasons why abuse victims stay. Victims on parole may have nowhere to go, few job skills, limited knowledge of resources, and may even fear for their life and freedom if they attempt to leave an abusive partner. Sometimes it can prove safer to stay until an escape plan is well-established. It is estimated that a woman who tries to flee or has fled, is 75% more likely to be murdered. Extensive safety planning is necessary before attempting to break free from an abusive relationship.
Call to Action
The correlation between being a repeat criminal offender and an abuse victim is too blatant to ignore. Ignoring it will surely result in more women continuing to fall prey to abusive and manipulative partners who can easily steer them into, or back to, a life of crime. We must acknowledge that this is a serious issue, and take the necessary measures to stave off the increasing rates of female repeat offenders/abusive victim. The primary way to do this is through awareness. We must also strengthen the intervention methods of our legal and social systems so that women have a reliable network to turn to, and are able to steer away from their abusers and criminality.
How can you help spread awareness on this issue?