Despite the fact that much remains to be done to solve the problem of violence in the family, the state, various organizations, and society has contributed to changing the current situation. Previously, domestic violence has often been perceived as a private issue about which people preferred not to go public. The victims remained silent for many reasons, and it has been slowing down the process of solving the acute problem.
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The legislation is gradually changing the rules of behavior in society, as well as the culture in general; the laws allow people to speak openly about the violence they experience in their family and get protection. At present, the laws support a comprehensive approach to violence against women, children, men, and seniors. The laws contain provisions on bringing the perpetrators to justice and provide assistance programs for violence victims. In this report, the two laws are explained in detail and are supported by examples to provide an overview of the law functioning and the area of their application. The reliable sources such as governmental publications, newspapers, and books have been consulted to achieve credibility.
The Domestic and Sexual Violence Victim Address Confidentiality Act (ACP Law) is an act concerned with the victims of home abuse (sexual abuse, stalking or any cases when the victim has to share the same household with the perpetrator). Currently, this law is applied in the 30 stated of America. It ensures that the address of the new victim’s residence will remain confidential (Domestic and sexual violence, 2010).
It also implies a specific program called the Address Confidentiality Program that supports the core of the ACP Law. The Office of the Victim Advocate is responsible for running the Program. Regarding the cases of child abuse, the law states that the individual denominated the mandatory reporter should inform the officials about the suspected case of abuse of a minor, while the officials are obliged to make the necessary proceedings and keep the information confidential.
One of the main implications of this law is that both the victims and the advocates must realize the connotation of the law itself and the possible consequences caused by its violation (Gosselin, 2010). In terms of stalking, the law indicates that this crime includes two decisive elements. Firstly, the actions will be considered stalking if an individual has conducted the unwanted behavior towards another person several times notwithstanding the time difference between the acts (Domestic and sexual violence, 2010). Secondly, if the person enduring stalking has faced a reasonable fright and was in jeopardy of serious physical harm or emotional hurt.
The ACP Law allows the victims get mail while keeping the address of their actual residence not revealed. Apart from that, the law and the program enable the victims of abuse to vote by using a substitute address. This legal method is applicable to almost all kinds of public records (Government agency information, n.d.). However, in situations when banks require such information to be delivered, the victim is allowed to give the address of another contact individual.
Despite the benefits that the program offers, there are cases when the law was or had to be violated due to the circumstances. The main issue is the limits of secrecy as in the case of Debbie Giannecchini, who has enrolled in the program (Pitzl, 2016). The woman was accused of disclosing her confidential address to her ex-husband who was pushing her to reveal it. The man required the address under the subtext of his need to be knowledgeable about the area where their daughter lives. The man stated that this information was essential in case his daughter was hurt; thus, it was his right to know the confidential address.
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In a similar way, Mike Manola faced a situation when he was required to disclose his address to the court while being under the protection of the ACP Law. Mike refused to provide the information and, as a consequence, he has lost his right to be his son’s guardian (Pitzl, 2016). The man depended on the limitations imposed by the Address Confidentiality Program and at the same time was obliged to violate the law in the court.
It should be noted that the law provides the security of address and its confidentiality but does not offer any legal defense (Pitzl, 2016). For that reason, in both cases described above, the victims have lost their cases in the court. Apparently, the Law and the Program have loopholes in their content that still allow courts and other legal bodies to compel the abuse victims to reveal their confidential information.
State Law (Pennsylvania)
In Pennsylvania, the victims of any kind of abuse are protected by the Crime Victims Act, which covers all cases of physical and mental abuse (Pennsylvania statutes, 2007). Despite the fact that this is a general act on violence, the protection of victims of domestic abuse is one of the leading aspects of this act. In addition, it is one of the fundamental legal regulators and protectors of home abuse victims and many supportive, laws, acts, and amendments stem from the Crime Victims Act. Moreover, it covers the organizations or entities that are obliged to avert domestic violence and covers the consequences that proceed if the entity fails to prevent abuse.
According to the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act, the victims have the right to get services aimed at assisting them in terms of legal proceedings, medical help and other. Further, they have the right to be timely informed about any legal proceedings concerned with their criminal case, including information about the act of perpetrator’s arrest or release, and any supporting delinquencies (Pennsylvania statutes, 2007).
The Act states that if the perpetrator escapes from the detention or correctional facility, the victim will be notified immediately, and the corresponding protective measures will be taken. When the home abuse situation is concerned with a minor, the Act obliges a guardian or any designated victim advocate to provide support to the victim and gives the advocate the right to accompany the victim to the court. Further on, the victim has to provide a statement in which the individual clarifies the detailed physical, mental, psychological or economic damages he or she has endured as well as the victim’s family. The motivational boot camp is a service offered to all individuals who are going to provide the statement during the hearing.
Domestic violence is one of the remaining issues in Pennsylvania. Sex abuse, battering, child neglect and inappropriate attitude towards the elderly family members frequently take place in many families in the state. A lot has been done in terms of legislation, the functioning of supportive organizations, and education; however, many adults and children tend to remain silent (Pettler, 2015). For that reason, the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act cannot fully function, while many cases stay undisclosed.
In the cases described onwards, the victims’ names have been omitted for the ethical reasons. In both situations, the perpetrators have been proven guilty and received the appropriate prison sentences as per the Act regulations.
In the first family, the 60-year-old man who was the stepfather of the victim was proven to conduct sexually assaulting behavior towards the ten-year-old girl. It turned out that he has been raping the girl for a number of years; thus, inflicting physical, emotional, and psychological pain that resulted in multiple health problems of the girl and her wrong perceptions of herself (Pettler, 2015). The man was sentenced to three to eight years in jail. As per legal regulations, the girl received medical and psychological help; at present, she continues getting support from the services offered by the local organizations.
In the case of the second family, the young woman has constantly been experiencing battering and sexual harassment from her 25-year old husband. The young woman was taken to hospital after she called the emergency and claimed to have continuous abdominal pains (Pettler, 2015). After careful medical examination, the hospital staff informed the police about the case of domestic abuse. As the man was a recidivist, he was sentenced to four to eight years in jail as defined by the Crime Victims Act. The victim fully recovered from physical injuries and received psychological help.
In the United States, the administration, the police, schools and local community organizations seek to work jointly on the issue of the domestic violence. The American non-profit organizations tend to work closely with federal, local, and public state authorities to ensure the protection of all victims of domestic violence, including men, women, children or elderly people. Their main goal is to influence the public opinion so that people will consider any manifestation of violence in relationships inappropriate.
Domestic and sexual violence victim address confidentiality. (2010). Web.
Gosselin, D. K. (2010). Heavy hands: An Introduction to the crimes of family violence. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Government agency information. (n.d.). Web.
Pennsylvania statutes. (2007). Web.
Pettler, L. G. (2015). Crime scene staging dynamics in homicide cases. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
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Pitzl, M. J. (2016). The state allows abuse victims to have secret addresses. But rulings in 2 cases may undermine that. Web.