Posted: May 25th, 2022
Angela’s case study illuminates several aspects of domestic violence. The case shows how domestic violence progresses from what was originally a normal relationship, through stages of escalating violence. Each section shows how persons outside the family might have the opportunity to intervene or offer support. What was most interesting about this case was the different legal obligations of health care workers, educators, and colleagues. Not all people are obliged to report suspected domestic violence. It is important to understand one’s role and whether or not reporting is appropriate.
Reporting is appropriate and warranted when there are obvious gunshot wounds or gunpowder burns, and also when an early childhood educator suspects domestic violence being perpetrated on a child (Minnesota Statutes, 2015). Each segment of the case study shows how complex the issue is, and how each person has a different role to play and different levels of responsibility. The main things to keep in mind include being supportive of Angela, encouraging her to empower herself and to not feel like anything is her fault, and help steer her in the direction of information and support.
The people who are most in the position of being able to help Angela also have specific roles to play and procedures to follow. For example, an a nurse who sees Angela and notices a bruise cannot and should not jump to conclusions and suspect domestic violence. However, the preschool teacher working with Katie or the school counselor working with Jacob and Angela can be more forthright because they have more information and are in the position of using that information to encourage Angela to develop a personal safety plan. Because Sam has threatened to kill, the situation must be taken very seriously.
The police have a special role to play. Often police are reluctant to get involved at certain stages, but there are stages of domestic violence escalation when the case needs to be treated as a criminal one. Police do have a legal responsibility to ensure Angela’s safety and the safety of her children, and should file domestic violence reports when violence has been committed, even when Angela seems reluctant to do so (MINCAVA, 2015). The state — represented by the law enforcement officer — has a right and duty to protect and serve.
It is painful and unfortunate that Angela seems reluctant throughout the case. She has lied to protect her abuser and to protect herself from embarrassment and shame. It is common for someone who feels like a victim to feel shame, and this is precisely why friends and family should remain supportive and encouraging. Angela needs inner strength and self-esteem, not judgment and pressure. The case stresses the importance of placing blame squarely where it is due, recognizing the core dynamic of domestic abuse.
The issue of “failure to protect” is one of the most challenging ones to stomach when learning about domestic violence. While there are situations in which mothers (assuming the mother was the victim of the abuse too) have allowed their children to be abused because they were too afraid or unwilling to say something. In some situations, the mother might have been complicit in the abuse. These are circumstances that must be addressed individually and there are no blanket responses. The “battered women syndrome” situation reveals the ways victims of systemic domestic violence are labeled as being complicit when in actuality their cognitive responses have become distorted, their judgment clouded by so many years of psychological as well as physical abuse.
Often a person needs to hit a “rock bottom” before making a concerted effort to change their situation. The rock bottom might be a severe injury to self or to the child. Regardless, it is important to treat the person with respect, refrain from judgment, and recognize the unique elements of their situation.
MINCAVA (2015). Global violence prevention. Retrieved online: http://www.globalvp.umn.edu/cgi-bin/index.pl
Minnesota Statutes (2015). Retrieved online: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=626.52
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