Sometimes, when you are in a bad situation or are just plain unhappy with your life, it can take very little to push you over the edge and cause you to lash out in a way you later regret. During these particularly tough economic times, it is easy to see how the loss of a job, an unexpected expense or simply the culmination of weeks and months of financial stress and hardship could be the final straw that causes many people to act in rash and drastic ways.
One increasingly common result of this added stress is domestic violence incidents, according to a new report conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). Specifically, about 56 percent of the 700 law enforcement agencies that responded to the PERF survey stated that they have seen an increase in domestic violence due to the poor economy. This is an increase of about 16 percent from the 2010 survey.
In addition, a 2009 study conducted by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found that financial stress was a significant factor in "intensifying and escalating" incidents of abuse.
So does the fact that many domestic violence offenses are committed because of financial stress, something many of us are experiencing today, make it right or okay? No, of course not. Hopefully, however, judges are taking these factors into consideration when convicting and sentencing first-time domestic abuse offenders. There is a difference between habitual violent offenders and people who make mistakes, and it is important that the court system recognizes that and treats defendants accordingly.
Source: USA Today, "Domestic violence rises in sluggish economy, police report," Kevin Johnson, April 30, 2012