Last year, the United Nations declared that the most dangerous place for women was the home.
Because of the high risk of violence – and even death – that women face from their family members and intimate partners.
In 2015 alone, 29 people throughout Minnesota died from domestic violence. The extreme nature of domestic violence, as well as the frequency with which it occurs throughout the state, can leave people terrified and confused.
How does this happen? Why does it happen so frequently? What can alleged abusers, who are often victims themselves, do to stop the cycle of abuse and avoid harsh – and usually unhelpful – penalties such as incarceration?
If you have recently been arrested for domestic abuse, understanding some of the most common underlying causes of domestic violence can be invaluable to your defense strategy.
Abusers Grew Up in Abusive Households
When people grow up in an abusive household, they may have a hard time knowing any different. Even worse, abuse victims who were never treated for their trauma may go on to abuse others.
There are many explanations for this cycle of abuse. For example, adults who were victimized as children may confuse abuse as an exciting, familiar, or simply normal behavior.
Not all abusers were themselves abused as children. Sometimes, extreme emotions can lead people to blindly commit violent acts without being able to reflect on their actions.
Minnesota even has a law that reflects this when it comes to the most serious of crimes: murder. Specifically, some defendants may be able to get a reduced sentence if they are found to have committed a “crime of passion.”
Anything can lead to these extreme fits of rage. Often, the smaller negative feelings (feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction with life, depression) may build up. People who repress their feelings, rather than addressing them with a professional, are more likely to have those feelings get out of control and lead to violence.
Substance Abuse Problems
Addiction or substance abuse may also lead to acts of violence. A person who is blackout drunk may act violently without thinking about the possible consequences of their actions. Data from the Department of Justice suggest that 61% of domestic violence abusers also have problems with substance abuse.
Unfortunately, more practical factors also play into abuse and the length of time that people spend in abusive households. Data from the annual Mary Kay Truth About Abuse Survey revealed that:
- 74% of women who are abused stay with the abuser for a longer period of time due to financial and economic factors
- 58% of domestic violence shelters reported that abuse is more intense in times of economic downturn
When the future looks bleak or debts start to pile up, abusers may feel similar feelings of stress and depression. Unfortunately, these economic factors also give abuse victims fewer options if they decide to flee. Even though shelters may still be open, they may not have the resources to help every victim they see.
How Understanding the Roots of Domestic Violence May Help Your Defense
These explanations do not excuse violence or abusive behavior, but abusers who are more aware of where violence comes from are more likely to stop the cycle of abuse. A domestic violence arrest can be the wake-up call you need to get help… but impending imprisonment tends to only add to stress and financial troubles.
Remember, there are two sides to every story of abuse. One of the best ways to help your case is to reach out to an experienced Minnesota defense lawyer about utilizing a strategy that highlights why you may have committed domestic abuse.
As you wait for your trial, reach out to a therapist or rehabilitation center for information about treatment. If a judge sees that you are genuinely apologetic for your actions and intend to get the help that you need, they may let you off without the worst possible punishments.
About the Author:
A former prosecutor and lifelong Minnesotan, Christian Peterson has handled hundreds of criminal cases from both sides of the aisle since he began practicing law in 2006, as well as a wide variety of family law matters. This background allows him to look at situations from all angles and anticipate which arguments the other side may use, increasing his clients’ chances of success. His work has been recognized by the American Society of Legal Advocates, the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and National Trial Lawyers, and he has a perfect 10/10 rating from Avvo.