Domestic Violence Legal Studies Essay Definition

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In honor of those who have fallen victim to crime. In memory of those whose lives have ended too soon.
Dedicated to those who work to make the world a better place.

About This Course

This intensive online program is designed to train and qualify students to provide assistance to crime victims. The course provides an overview of criminal procedure and discusses the devastating effects crime can have on its victims.

Successful graduates of our training program will be eligible at minimum for the NACP Provisional Credential and possibly for the Basic, Intermediate or Advanced Credential based upon their experience in the field. Please refer to the NACP link for additional information:

Course Objectives

  • Define the rights and responsibilities of a victim advocate
  • Summarize the relevant legislation regarding victim advocacy and background of victim advocacy
  • Summarize the American legal system and the American system of government
  • Discuss both the civil and criminal litigation processes
  • Discuss how crime affects victims
  • Identify the elements of the grief process and PTSD
  • Explain how to work with the victim’s family and the media definitions of racism, sexism, and heterosexism
  • Define classism, ageism, and ableism
  • Demonstrate how to respond to victims of hate crimes
  • Explain guidelines for death notification and for providing support after death notification
  • Identify victim advocacy skills for working with surviving family members of a homicide victim
  • Identify suicide behavioral distress signals
  • Demonstrate techniques for assisting suicidal persons and tools for suicide prevention
  • Identify patterns of domestic violence
  • List characteristics of abusers and victims
  • Explain how to counsel victims of domestic violence
  • Discuss how to recognize signs of child abuse
  • Identify common Myths Regarding Rape
  • Describe the effects of sexual assault and rape
  • Demonstrate how to respond to victims of sexual assault and rape
  • Identify the elements of sexual abuse, child neglect, physical abuse, and emotional abuse
  • Identify techniques for intervention and support in child abuse situations


This is an accelerated course. You will be expected to spend an average of at least 8 hours per week reading and completing writing assignments. Please note that extensions will not be granted for this online course. This course is the equivalent of at least 45 clock hours of study. 70% is the minimum passing score on all tests and assignments for this course.

Course Books

There are no required texts for this topic.

Highly Recommended Legal Resources:

  • Oran’s Dictionary of the Law, 4th Edition, by Daniel Oran. Clifton Park: Delmar Cengage Learning

For more information, call The Center for Legal Studies at 888-238-5204, or visit our Online Store to order.

Lesson Topics:

Lesson One: Introduction Victim Advocacy and Legislation regarding Victim Rights
Lesson Two: Introduction to the Legal Process and Effects of Victimization on the Victim
Lesson Three: Victim Advocate Skills and “ISMs” (a look at bias in victim advocacy)
Lesson Four: Assault, Battery, and Robbery and Homicide & Suicide
Lesson Five: Domestic Violence
Lesson Six: Sexual Assault/Rape and Child Abuse
Course Wrap-Up and Job Hunting Techniques


Writing Assignments:
For each lesson you will submit a 50-point short answer/essay assignment covering the topics in that lesson’s reading.


You will complete two exams. Each is worth 100 points. The Midterm exam is to be submitted with your Lesson Three Assignments; the Final exam is to be submitted with your Lesson Six Assignments.

Bulletin Board Assignments:

You will also post your responses to six class participation assignments. These assignments are referred to as Bulletin Board Submissions and will be submitted by either selecting Bulletin Board Submission from within the lesson material, or by selecting ‘Forums’ under Activities on the Left Hand Block.

All lesson objectives, assignments, and tests can be found in the Lesson Materials.


Your grade will be based on your completion of six writing assignment assignments, two exams, and class participation/Bulletin Board Submissions. The exams and writing assignments can be accessed from within the lesson material, or by selecting ‘Assignments’ under Activities on the Left Hand Block. You will have the opportunity to engage in “class participation” by using the Bulletin Board tool to respond to the bulletin board assignments throughout the course. Also, participating in the bulletin board assignments will enhance your understanding of the reading material.

Your final grade will be figured as follows:

  • The six writing assignments are worth 50 points each and comprise 40% of your grade.
  • The two exams are worth 100 points and comprise 40% of your grade.
  • Your participation in class participation assignments comprises 20% of your grade.

Every assignment must be completed with 70% or better in order to pass the course.

Withdrawal Policy

Students may drop the course with a full tuition refund less a $15 non-refundable administrative fee if written notice is sent to The Center for Legal Studies by email [email protected] by the Wednesday before class begins. Students may drop the course with a 50% tuition refund if written notice is sent to The Center for Legal Studies by email [email protected] anytime from the Thursday before the course begins until the first Thursday of class. After the first Thursday of class no refunds will be issued.


The Center for Legal Studies gratefully acknowledges contributions to the development of this course: Patty Mosher, Victim Assistance Program Director in Douglas County, Colorado, for providing access to her program and research materials; Leigh Builder, Victim Assistance Advocate in Atlanta, Georgia, for providing national information and research materials; Joseph Arseneau, former police officer and educational researcher, for providing research development and contacts as well as initial inspiration for the certificate program format; Annalisa Philbin, J.D. for her legal expertise; and Dr. Alison Hatch, former Director of Continuing Education at the Center for Legal Studies, and former Legal Victim Assistant in Boulder Colorado, for editing and researching.

To what extent does the legal system provide justice for victims of domestic violence? A domestic violence offence is defined in s11 of the Crimes(Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 as a ‘personal violence offence committed by a person against another person with whom the person who commits the offence has or has had a domestic relationship.’ This violence can take the form of physical, verbal , emotional, financial, psychological and or sexual abuse, social isolation or threatened violence or harassment. Due to changing social values and attitudes, domestic violence is no longer regarded as a private matter, but a legal issue that is deemed unacceptable by community standards. The Australian legal system has strived over the years to introduce enforceable legal measures to provide justice for victims of domestic violence, and this can be reflected through the introduction and reform of ADVOs , laws regarding domestic violence towards children, and domestic violence in cases of divorce. The Crimes (Domestic Violence) Amendment Act 1982 NSW was a response to NSW Task force report on Domestic violence in the previous year. It defined domestic violence and introduced apprehended domestic violence orders. In 2007, the law about ADVOs was removed from the 1982 Act and put into a stand-alone Act, the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW). ADVOs ensure protection to victims of domestic violence by placing a restriction on the offender and prohibiting them from making contact with the victim. As ADVOs operate under this act, they are therefore enforceable by the law and can offer a greater level of protection for victims. This act was reformed by the The Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Amendment Act 2013 which granted police greater powers to better in the area of ADVOS. The Act allows police to apply for an ADVO if they suspect domestic violence, even if the victim is not willing to make a complaint, and allows police to direct a person to go to or remain at a particular place or to detain a person to serve an ADVO. Emergency Services Minister Stuart Ayres states these reform “reduce the risk of defendants fleeing before the order is served and will enable victims to safely remain in their home”, demonstrating the law’s responsiveness in more effectively protecting victims of domestic violence. 2014 ABC news article “National domestic violence orders would leave perpetrators with 'nowhere to hide', Government says” has also indicates the legal system’s plans to implement national ADVOS, preventing perpetrators of domestic violence to flee to a different state where the ADVO does not apply or follow the victim to a different state. This again highlights the law’s responsiveness and the extent to which it aims to protect victims by ensuring their security even across state borders. The effectiveness of ADVOs in protecting victims is highlighted in the 2015 SMH article “Violence against women reduced through apprehended violence orders, survey shows” which stated that 98% of victims reported that they no longer experienced abuse about taking out an ADVO against their abuser. However, the extent of the effectiveness of ADVOs is limited by the lack of compliance, as according to BOCSAR in 2014, 44% of ADVOs issued were breached. The lack of compliance is further highlighted by 2014 Sun Herald article “Fury at failure of AVO system after woman slain at Point Cook Home” which detailed the impotence of ADVOs, since victim Kelly Thompson was stabbed to death by her ex-partner who had breached an ADVO. Therefore, it can be seen that the introduction and subsequent reforms of ADVOs have been able to better protect victims of domestic violence by promoting responsiveness and enforceability under the law. However, individual compliance remains an issue as they can do little to deter perpetrators of violence if they choose to disregard the order. The The Children and young persons(Care and Protection) Act 1998 aims to protect children by allowing the Department Of Community Services to intervene in families if the Department has received a report the child is at risk of domestic violence. However, DOCS has been repeatedly criticised for its ineffectiveness and procedural failings, mainly due to resource limitations. An example of this is the highly publicised R v BW & SW 2009 case, where a 7 year old girl died as a result of starvation and neglect over a 20 month period. According to 2009 The Australian article “DOCS let little girl Ebony starve- Ombudsman” there had 17 separate reports lodged with DOCS yet still resulted in the child’s death. 2013 SMH article “The system is failing the children of this state’: most child abuse cases closed early, says PSA” states that only 30% of NSW’s most serious cases are fully investigated by DOCs, mainly due to a shortage of case workers due to a lack of funding provided to DOCs. Therefore, despite DOCs having the legal power to remove children from domestic violence situations, the ability of the legal system to protect child victims of domestic violence is greatly limited by issues of resource efficiency. The Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2011 (Cth) is an effective legal mechanism that strives to suppress issues of domestic violence in the incidence of divorce. It reformed the Family Law Act 1975, as there were criticisms that while family violence is a fairly common occurrence on separation, it is not effectively dealt with by the FLA. The act reformed the definition of family violence to include acts of stalking, verbal abuse and psychological abuse, mainly towards children as they are deemed the most vulnerable members of society. It also included the notion that ‘exposure to domestic violence’ constituted a form of domestic violence. Therefore, the reforms have broadened the extent to which family violence can be prosecuted and enforced, as the Act recognises both physical and emotional harm, and even when individuals are not directly affected by the violence, providing a higher degree of justice for victims. The Act also amended the FLA Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006 (Cth) which had introduced the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility. There were no specific provisions in the legislation which prioritised protection from harm over shared parenting and this resulted in substantial criticism that the law had moved away from protecting the rights of women and children to acceding to men’s demand for increased time with their children. These concerns were highlighted in the 2009 Australian Institute of Family Studies report which was commissioned to evaluate the 2006 reforms. However the FLA 2011 Act prioritises the concept that ‘protecting a child from harm’ is more important than the notion of “shared parental responsibility”. This is reflected in the 2014 Uysal and Mardine case in which the Family Circuit Court allowed the mother and child to flee to another country due to the father’s abuse and jealousy. This demonstrates the success of the law in providing better justice for victims of domestic violence as their safety is prioritised over shared parental responsibility. Hence, it is evident that the new legislation is extending the scope to which victims of domestic violence are protected in the circumstances of divorce, offering greater protection by broadening the definition of domestic violence and prioritising protection over shared parental responsibility. Throughout the years, domestic violence has been recognised as a prevalent and important issue in society, and this can be reflected through the legal system’s responses in implementing new laws in an effort to better protect victims. However, the extent to which it is able to do so remained mixed, as demonstrated through the introduction and reform of ADVOs , laws regarding domestic violence towards children, and domestic violence in cases of divorce.


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