Domestic Violence Awareness
American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division
2008–09 Domestic Violence Public Service Project
Educate and Serve Your Community: Domestic Violence Prevention and Awareness
This year’s ABA YLD Service Project is designed to educate young lawyers about the epidemic of domestic violence, particularly among teenagers, and to encourage young lawyers to take action in responding to and preventing domestic violence in their communities.
Project Highlights:
· A Project Web site
· A video introducing the topics of teen dating violence and pro bono work
· Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Toolkit
· Legislative advocacy and resolutions
· Continuing legal education and pro bono training programs
· Community service projects at conferences
· Local domestic violence roundtables
Visit www.abanet.org/yld/dv for more information throughout this bar year.
Teen Dating Violence Statistics (Provided by the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence)
18-to 24-year-olds comprised only 11.7% of the U.S. population in 1998 and 2002, yet that age group comprised the majority (42%) of victims of violence committed by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
· Approximately 1 in 5 female high school students reports being physically or sexually abused or both by a dating partner.
· In a study of eighth and ninth graders, 25% of them indicated that they had been victims of dating violence, including 8% who disclosed being sexually abused.
· In a survey of 232 high school girls, 17.8% of the participants indicated that they had been forced to engage in sexual activity against their will by a dating partner.
· Among female students between the ages of 15 to 20 who reported at least one violent act during a dating relationship, 24% of them reported experiencing extremely violent incidents such as rape or the use of weapons against them.
· Girls who reported that they had been sexually or physically abused were more than twice as likely as girls who had not been abused to smoke (26% versus 10%), drink (22% versus 12%), and use illegal drugs (30% versus 13%). In addition, 32% of girls who had been abused reported eating disorders of binging and purging as compared to 12% of girls who had not been abused.
· In a study of 724 adolescent mothers between the ages of 12 and 18, 1 in 8 pregnant adolescents reported having been physically assaulted by the father of her baby during the preceding 12 months of pregnancy. Of these, 40% also reported experiencing violence at the hands of a family member or relative.
· Physical aggression occurs in 1 in 3 teen dating relationships.
· 50–80% of teens report knowing someone involved in a violent relationship.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a renewepportunity for us as lawyers to learn how we can best tims of domestic violence. Find ideas on how you can help in your community by visiting the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence ( www.abanet.org/domviol/home.html) and Break the Cycle ( www.breakthecycle.org).
Break the Cycle of Abuse: Prosecuting Domestic Violence Cases
By Marilyn Alioto
Marilyn Alioto is an assistant state’s attorney in the Domestic Violence Division of the Cook County ( Illinois) State’s Attorney’s Office. Jennifer Greene, court advocacy program director for Family Rescue in Chicago, contributed to the article.
Domestic violence is a crime that does not discriminate. It affects people of every background, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Aggressive and consistent prosecution against domestic violence offenders remains a key factor in stopping the cycle of domestic violence.
Domestic violence victims are unlike many other crime victims because of the inherent relationship between the offender and the victim. Some victims do not want to prosecute because they fear that the offenders may view such prosecution as a hostile act and retaliate. Or the victims may have a strong emotional tie to or financial reliance on the offenders that prevents them from going forward.
When victims do not wish to proceed, prosecutors should not be discouraged. Instead they should seize the opportunity to learn why victims are reluctant to proceed against offenders and to understand the cycle of domestic abuse. Prosecutors should provide victims with information about domestic violence agencies that can help them leave abusive relationships. In addition to the help prosecutors can provide, courtrooms often provide volunteer advocates in the courtroom to assist victims during the proceedings; for example, in Chicago such advocates can come from the State’s Attorneys Office, Hull House, and Family Rescue. Access to advocates can alleviate the victims’ fear and create a safe outlet for them to express their concerns.
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