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There are several laws that have been passed in the hopes of alleviating family violence. One of the most prominent is the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA. The legislation was passed in 1994 for a variety of reasons. One reason was to make clear that violence against women that happens in the domestic realm is not a "private issue", but rather one that authorities must treat as a public issue and address it as a criminal act. In the process, it helped to initiate the process of speaking out against domestic violence and not merely dismissing it as "husband and wife squabble." In this realm, one can see how private actions have public implications.
It is important to understand that generally, family violence, which is usually referred to as domestic violence, is a matter of state law, not federal law. I cannot speak for all 50 states authoritatively, but I would imagine that all of them have statutes concerning domestic violence. In Pennsylvania, for example, there is a Protection from Abuse statute.
You should also be aware that while most people seem to focus on spousal abuse, abuse of one's child or parent is often covered under such statutes.
In Pennsyvania, under the Protection from Abuse Act, consequences for abuse of a family member might include removal from the home or removal of a child from the home. When a child is abused, a government agency will usually become involved in the situation, and a child might be taken permanantly from the home. A violation of a Protection from Abuse Order can also lead to incarceration.
When one abuses a family member, the normal criminal charges also apply, so one might be found guilty of assault and battery, rape, attempted murder, and so on.
Domestic violence is a serious problem. It affects people of all ages, races, ethnic groups and socio-economic status. If someone you know is being abused, a good person to speak to about this is a school counselor.
Family violence laws differ from state to state. Domestic abuse is a significant problem in America. Initially laws and directives regarding family violence were not in place. However, as women's rights and African American rights were fought for, the time came to address family violence. In the early 1970's the first standards as definitions of family violence were put into play. Formerly police and other law enforcement officers could only respond to domestic violence calls, but could not charge or arrest people without evidence of physical harm. However, if a woman had a punched eye without the officer witnessing the violence the man could not be arrested.
Changes in laws now allow the police to arrest persons involved in family violence even when the person denies action and the husband or wife refuses to have the person charged. Domestic violence responses are the most dangerous response for law enforcement.
Family Violence laws also address the issue of child abuse. In the past, children had no protection if their parents were abusive towards them. Animals had more rights to safety than children until the early 1970s.
There are laws established to protect families against domestic violence. Laws vary by state and should be considered based on the state in which the situation occured.
"All of you know how much needs to be done to take meaningful steps to end domestic violence and sexual assault. We need tough law enforcement, aggressive prosecutions, effective prevention programs and available shelters for families in distress. Most importantly, we need to insure that more people know and understand that domestic violence is not a private matter. It is a critical national problem that affects us all -- in every community, in every work place and in every school. (Domestic Violence Awareness Handbook, US Department of Agriculture).
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