Domestic Violence and Social Work Environment

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 7
Words: 1658
Reading time:
6 min


Domestic violence involves all acts of abuse that occur between couples who are either married or cohabiting. Abuse of members of a household can be termed domestic violence. In the context of this research paper, domestic violence encompasses the use of humiliating words, kicking, beating, choking, and/or killing. Depending on the severity of the act, domestic violence can be classified as a civil or a criminal act.

Therefore, domestic violence can be subjected to the law. Although it has been difficult to classify acts of domestic violence as a crime due to insufficient evidence, belligerent acts that lead to bodily injury, assault, harassment, rape, and murder have been prosecuted under the criminal law. Majorly, most domestic violence cases are prosecuted under the Civil Act since they involve emotional abuse and do not meet the prosecution threshold of the criminal law.

However, laws that govern domestic violence have various effects on how the victims interact with management institutions such as the police, ERs, and their working environment. The laws also determine whether the institutions of enforcement can cater to the needs of the victims adequately. This paper seeks to discuss violence management under the criminal laws and the civil laws through examination of the interaction between the victims and the various institutions of management and social work advocates.

Domestic Violence under Criminal Cases

Impact of Socio-Legal Transactions on Bio-Psychosocial Functioning of Client/Population

There have been profound impacts of socio-legal transactions on the biopsychosocial functioning of clients and/or the affected population in cases that pertain to domestic violence. According to Sloan, Platt, Chepke, and Blevin (2013), various domestic violence laws such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 allow the police to arrest and prosecute a suspect of domestic violence even when the abused woman does not report the crime.

Sloan et al. (2013) also affirm that the law allows enforcement officers to arrest the aggravators and prosecute them in courts of law, provided there is sufficient evidence to back the violation of rights. This legislative provision encourages people to report cases of domestic violence. Prince (2014) observes that cases of domestic violence are prosecuted under criminal law based on the severity of injuries and restraining court orders.

However, VAWA has recorded numerous cases of men who have been arrested after arguments with their women. In the event of the arguments, yelling women have severally attracted the attention of the police and/or neighbors. In other cases, some children perceive such situations as dangerous and call the police. Under this law, Cosentino (2013) asserts that women cannot release their arrested husbands on bail charges since the Act allows for the prosecution of the offender without the cooperation of the victim. As a result, such laws have forced families to pay heavy fines for unreported crimes. Occasionally, the relationship between couples is damaged, especially in cases where men accuse their women of foul play.

Furthermore, this law has significantly affected the environment in which couples live. For example, the VAWA of 2004 allows any person who witnesses or perceives violence against a woman in their environment to call the police. For instance, children who fail to understand the degree of violence can attract the attention of the police. Indeed, this situation has resulted in arrests of their fathers in many cases (Cosentino, 2013). Neighbors who are on bad terms with an affected couple can also take the advantage of the VAWA to report simple cases of yelling or breakage of household items. This state of affairs has severally destroyed the peaceful coexistence of families. Various studies have indicated that the situation can result in more cases of physical abuse in the future.

Sensitivity of Socio-Legal Environment to Challenges of Clients/Population

The socio-legal environment of criminal cases that pertain to domestic violence is sensitive to the challenges that face the clients or the affected population. The prosecution process of domestic violence cases has evidenced this situation in numerous occurrences. For a case to be prosecuted as a criminal act, Sloan et al. (2013) observe that some laws such as the Protection Against Family Violence Act require the victim or the prosecutor to show physical or medical evidence to ascertain injuries.

Although there are no acceptable levels of abuse, Prince (2014) affirms that the circumstances that lead to violence are evaluated together with the culprit’s previous instances of abuse. In addition, the offenders undergo medical examinations to ascertain their mental health before they are prosecuted and sentenced. This kind of prosecution is common in cases that involve the murder of partners.

To ensure that there are reduced cases of repeated abuse, the law has a provision for extended punishment in jail terms and monetary fines. Cosentino (2013) also affirms that there are provisions for divorce and restraints to ensure a safe environment for the victim and children. Furthermore, the law has a provision for counseling of both the imprisoned offender and the victim.

Socio-Legal Environment Issues that are raised by Clients Interface with Management Environment

The system of managing domestic violence takes a rehabilitative approach towards a client. For instance, Cosentino (2013) asserts that the Family Abuse Intervention Act (FAIA) requires the client to undergo a thorough process of counseling that provides them with guidelines to identify symptoms of abuse and report them. In case of injury, assault, harassment, rape, or bodily harm, the victim is also taken through medical treatment.

In addition, Sloan et al. (2013) attest that the criminal law approach to domestic violence also makes it mandatory for health workers to report suspected cases of domestic violence. However, this approach can make the situation more complicated since the victims mostly aggravate the abusers into more cruelty that makes them inflict further physical injuries. Nonetheless, the rehabilitative approach makes the environment better for the client.

The fines and punishment that are awarded by the courts for domestic violence also deter both criminals and prospective abusers from committing such acts of violation in the future. This situation makes the socio-legal environment safer for the client.

Civil Law Approach to Domestic Violence/Protective Order

Impact of Socio-Legal Transactions on Bio-Psychosocial Functioning of Client/Population

In other cases, domestic violence may not cause any injuries or physical harm to the victims. However, such acts can result in emotional and psychological harm. According to Johnson (2014), most cases of domestic violence lack adequate evidence to sustain the prosecution of offenders under the criminal law. As a result, most cases of domestic violence are handled under civil laws such as the Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act of 1976, the Domestic Proceedings and Magistrate courts Act of 1978, and the Matrimonial Homes Act of 1983.

However, the effect of these civil laws has been traumatic for most women who experience acts of domestic violence. According to Bettinson (2012), a considerable number of the victims have protested against light punishments that are issued to the offenders by courts under civil laws. For example, the Family Law Act of 1996 allows non-molestation orders and occupation orders for the offenders. Such orders have not deterred repeated abuse but have resulted in divorce and separation of couples in some cases.

Sensitivity of Socio-Legal Environment to Challenges of Clients/Population

The civil process of managing domestic violence is also sensitive to the socio-legal environment of the client. According to Bettinson (2012), this situation is evident in several statutes of civil law. For instance, when a court is issuing injunctions in cases of domestic violence where children are involved, the Children Act of 1989 stipulates that a person who poses risks to the child can be excluded from interim care. This state of affairs mostly transpires in cases where the client or the victim suffers from mental illness. Under the Family Law of 1994, Section 63 (1), decisions that pertain to the ruling of any domestic violence case must take into consideration the health and wellbeing of the client (Bettinson, 2012).

Under the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act of 2004, Johnson (2014) also observes that police officers have been given the power to arrest offenders of domestic violence who may pose a threat to the clients or the victims. This stipulation ensures that peace is sustained within the environment of a client. In addition, the same Act holds that offenders may also be issued with orders of restraint that bar them from accessing or visiting the victims.

Socio-Legal Environment issues raised by Clients Interface with Management Environment

The civil law system of managing domestic violence adopts a rehabilitative approach towards the client. For example, Bettinson (2012) reveals that Section 33 of the Domestic Violence Crimes and Victims Act 2004 requires the court to undertake a mandatory balance of harm test before allowing the offender to access the client and the children. This directive seeks to establish the emotional stability of the family or the client. Bettinson (2012) further asserts that the Act offers the client an opportunity to make an occupation order for their housing needs in case of a total fallout with the offender after sentencing.

Moreover, the court can issue a non-molestation order to the offender in cases of domestic violence as stipulated in the Family law of 1994, Section 42 (Bettinson, 2012). Consequently, there is no emotional harm in the client’s environment to deter the offender from repeating the crime as the court’s work is to preserve the family.


The number of domestic violence cases that are reported has remained low worldwide. This situation implies that the numbers of prosecuted cases are unexpectedly low, as many of them are never reported. However, the legislators who are charged with the management of this situation have made significant efforts to ensure that both criminal and legal prosecutions of offenders are successful. Systems that are charged with the management of domestic violence have ensured that the courts adopt rehabilitative approaches to ensure emotional stability, protection of children, and deterrence of would-be offenders from committing such acts of abuse in the future.


Bettinson, V. (2012). Restraining Orders following an acquittal in Domestic violence cases: securing great victim safety? Journal of criminal law, 76(6), 512-27.

Cosentino, L. (2013). “She said what?” what to do in civil domestic violence proceedings with child hearsay. Florida Bar Journal, 87(8), 42-6.

Johnson, E. (2014). A home with dignity: domestic violence and property rights. Brigham Young University Law review, 2014(1), 1-544.

Prince, S. (2014). All is fair in Love and war-or is it? Domestic Violence and Weapons Bans. American Journal of Family Law, 28(2), 79-86.

Sloan, F., Platt, A., Chepke, L., & Blevin, C. (2013). Deterring domestic violence: Do criminal sanctions reduce repeat offences. Journal of risk & uncertainty, 46(1), 51-80.