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Preventing Domestic Violence: A Blueprint for the 21st Century

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1998
55 pages
This document presents strategic policy toward preventing domestic violence in California.
Domestic violence is described as a pattern of behaviors that includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse and/or economic control used by adults or adolescents against their current or former intimate partners in an attempt to exercise power and authority. It is a major public health problem. In California, State policymakers have been at the forefront in enacting landmark legislation and initiating innovative programs to address this problem and assist victims. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women ages 15 to 44 in the United States. Intimate partners perpetrate 29 percent of all individual violent offenses against women. In California, 32 percent of murdered women are killed by their husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends. It is recommended by the Domestic Violence Advisory Council in California that the following six key issues be addressed over the next 3 to 5 years. First, the State needs to strengthen and expand domestic violence programs and resources. Recent heightened awareness of domestic violence has created an intensified demand for additional services beyond safe refuge. Second, children and youth need to be protected from domestic violence. The tremendous psychological and physical impact on children must be addressed both immediate and long-term. Third, abuser accountability must be ensured. Batterers must be held responsible for their behavior, punished to the full extent of the law, and societal attitudes must be changed. Fourth, economic independence for domestic violence victims must be promoted. Social policies fail to take into account the economic impact on many women that are trying to escape abusive relationships. Fifth, domestic violence must be prevented from occurring in the first place. And finally, State government operations relating to domestic violence must be improved. There is a need to reduce fragmentation of programs and policies among agencies and increase coordinated efforts statewide.