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Running Header: SOCIAL POLICY ANALYSIS

Summary
The competencies fulfilled by this assignment include:
2.1.5 Advance Human rights and social and economic justice.
2.1.8 Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to
deliver effective social work services.
In writing this paper I learned that social workers played a role in bringing about the
policy changes that have impacted this issue. Although there have been great strides in changing
societal acceptance and policy concerning domestic abuse, it continues to be a pervasive issue
today and social workers are still involved in research and in advocating for further policy
changes in an effort to protect women and children and in providing assistance to the victims. I
learned that these actions are the behaviors addressed by the above competencies which are also
mentioned in the Code of Ethics.
The reasons I chose domestic abuse as the topic for this paper was that I have personal
experience with it. This gave me a unique perspective having personally experienced the impact
of this social problem on myself and my entire family and have witnessed the changes that have
taken place since 1963. This is, in fact, one of the life experiences that had an impact on my
decision to become a social worker. I witnessed domestic abuse as a child when my father was
abusive to my mother, and experienced it as an adult in my first domestic relationship. One
important topic concerning domestic abuse that I neglected to mention in my paper was that
domestic abuse is very often intergenerational; girls are more likely to choose partners that are
abusive and boys are more likely to become abusers, perpetuating the problem. I was fortunate in
that I realized what was happening and got out of the relationship and it is because of this
awareness that I was able to avoid repeating the mistake.

SOCIAL POLICY ANALYSIS

Social Policy Analysis: Intimate Partner Abuse


Lynda Reimer
Wayne State University

Abstract
The topic of this paper is domestic abuse. The abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or
economic and includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, terrorize,

SOCIAL POLICY ANALYSIS

coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone. The majority of victims are women but
men are affected as well. The impact on victims is both psychological and physical. Topics
covered will be the history of domestic abuse, the services and policies that have been put in
place to alleviate the problem, who receives the services and how treatment of the issue relates to
Social work values and ethics.

The current social welfare issue that is the topic of this paper is intimate partner abuse or
domestic abuse. The abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or economic and includes any
behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt,

SOCIAL POLICY ANALYSIS

injure, or wound someone. According to the Bureau of Justice, about 4 in 5 victims of intimate
partner violence are female. Those living in households with one female adult with children
were 10 times more likely to experience intimate partner violence than households with married
adults with children. The age group that generally experienced the highest rates of intimate
partner violence were those 18 to 34 years of age. Although women make up the vast majority of
victims, according to the CDC, 1 in 7 men also are victims of intimate partner violence.
The impact on victims, both women and men, ranges from chronic mental health
problems, poor physical health, depression, trouble sleeping, substance abuse, and chronic pain.
Children who witness violence in their homes are also victims and may suffer from some of the
same effects faced by abused children. They may become withdrawn, fearful, and angry,
experience sleep difficulties, and have problems in school.
Up until the mid-1800s it was considered legal for a man to exercise his authority over
his wife by beating her. Popular opinion began to change and in 1850 Tennessee became the first
state to pass a law prohibiting a man from beating his wife. Several other states including
Alabama followed soon after. By 1880, the majority of courts had firmly rejected the rights of
men to discipline their wives but did nothing to enforce the laws so, the practice continued.
The Chicago Protective Agency for Women opened in 1885. It offered a women up to
four weeks of shelter, provided legal aid, help with the court when seeking a separation or
divorce and fair distribution of marital property. By 1920 there were shelters in 25 other states.
Unfortunately, by 1940 only a few remained, partly due to separations caused by World War II
(Roberts, 1966).

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Throughout the mid-twentieth century police rarely intervened in situations of abuse and
when they did, the husband was never arrested. Cultural norms at the time considered the
treatment of the wife by the husband to be a private matter. It wasnt until the middle of the
1960s that things began to change. The civil rights movement had laid the ground work for the
feminist movement. In 1967 the first womens liberation group formed and the battered
womens movement was born. By the early 1970s crisis centers and hotlines offered a venue for
battered women to speak up about their experiences and get help. During this time women who
left their husbands because of abuse were denied welfare benefits based on their husbands
income. Grassroots organizations began to affect public opinion and by 1975 the majority of
states allowed wives to bring criminal charges against husbands for physical injuries and states
were beginning to pass no-fault divorce laws making it easier for women to obtain a divorce. But
it wasnt until 1994 when the Violence Against Women Act was passed that the federal
government officially acknowledged domestic abuse as a crime. Today domestic abuse is a
crime in all states, although each state handles it differently.
Michigan domestic abuse is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a
five hundred dollar fine. The abuser is required to attend Batterer Intervention sessions in an
effort to stop the abuse and may have to adhere to the guidelines set forth in a Personal
Protection Order which is intended to protect the victim. Many laws have been put into effect
that make it easier to prosecute abusers. One such law allows for warrantless arrests of abusers,
making it easier to protect the victim. Police officers are now required to provide victims with
printed information about shelter programs and services, as well as their legal rights to obtain a
personal protection order.

SOCIAL POLICY ANALYSIS

In 1978 the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) was
created and is comprised of service providers and shelters. There are many services available to
victims and their children. Shelters provide safety, and a wide array of services such as
temporary housing, individual and career counseling, financial assistance, and health care. There
are numerous 24 hour crisis lines that can give immediate assistance. There have been enormous
changes in the services available over the past one hundred years. There were virtually no
protective laws and few places to turn to for assistance in the past. The public attitude has
changed as well. Women were once thought of as the property of their husbands who were
subservient and needed to be kept in line; if they were beat, they must have deserved it. Now, of
course, they can be as independent as they choose.
My personal beliefs about domestic abuse are based on personal experience. My father
was abusive toward my mother and sometimes my brothers and me. I believe his abusive
behavior can be partially blamed on alcohol. He was only abusive when drunk and I think that is
true for many abusers, both men and women. It may also be a learned behavior, either as result
of watching a parent behave abusively or by being a victim of abuse. I can see where children
who are physically punished could learn to use that same behavior as well. Its so important to
have programs and laws in place to help and protect victims of abuse. I always wondered why
my mother didnt just leave my father and now I know, she had nowhere to turn for help. It was
the 60s and there were no available programs, and she couldnt get welfare because of my
fathers income. She did eventually leave but not until Michigan became a no fault divorce state.
Then she was able to get assistance until she could find work because she no longer had income
from my father.

SOCIAL POLICY ANALYSIS

The primary mission of the social work profession is enhancement of human wellbeing.
The ethical principles call for social workers to help people in need and to address social
problems; to challenge social injustice; to advocate for living conditions conducive to the
fulfillment of basic human needs and promote social, political and cultural values and institutions
that are compatible with the realization of social justice. All of these relate to the treatment of
this issue. No doubt social workers were involved in creating the policies and laws that protect
victims and created even the Batterer Intervention program.
The issue of domestic abuse has been a persistent problem for society. The majority of
victims are women but also include men, and children who witness the abuse. It can have long
lasting effects on health and mental wellbeing. It took 150 years from the time the issue was first
identified until policies and laws were put into effect to protect the victims. There are now many
different programs to help victims escape the abuse and deal with its after affects. The values and
ethics of the social work profession require that as social workers we continue to help the victims
and maintain the policies that have been put in place to protect them.

References
Ashford, J., & Lecroy, C. (2013). Human behavior in the social environment: A

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multidimensional perspective. (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.


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.aspx
Roberts, A. R. (1996). Helping battered women: New perspectives and remedies. New York:
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