May 7, 2014
Law Enforcement officers beat their significant other at nearly double the national average. Several studies, according to Diane Wetendorf, author of Police Domestic Violence: Handbook for Victims, indicate that women suffer domestic abuse in at least 40 percent of police officer families. For American women overall, the figure is 25 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to The Advocates for Human Rights Organization, studies indicate that police families are 2-4 times more likely than the general population to experience domestic violence, making the potential for disparities in protective success particularly troubling.
Historian John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, has a famous quote, Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This rings true through all levels of government ‘power,’ however it is particular prevalent among police officers.
Sociopaths are attracted to positions in which they are able to assert authority over others, so it should come as no surprise that there are higher concentrations of sociopaths within law enforcement.
The trouble with spousal abuse lies in the very nature of police work. The authority and control in the wrong hands, will be misused, according to domestic violence counselors.
What makes police domestic violence more difficult to deal with is the fact that women feel scared to report it. Even advocates for battered women are reluctant to dive into domestic violence cases involving police for fear of alienating the agencies they rely upon for help in other abuse cases, according to a report by SFGate.
When other women report their abuse, they do so to law enforcement officers. Think about it from the position of the one being abused by a law enforcement officer. The one doing the beating is simultaneously holding a position in which they are tasked with preventing that very abuse!
Diane Wetendorf told SFGate in an interview,
“The biggest problem for a woman reporting that she’s been abused by her police officer husband or boyfriend is that nobody believes you.”
“There are a lot of good cops who go into the work for the right reasons, to help people. But then you have these others who are more interested in the authority, in the badge and the gun.”
“They start out with command presence and voice to gain and maintain control, and if that doesn’t work, they go up the scale with an increasing amount of force until they get compliance,” Wetendorf said. “Unfortunately, these guys use the same technique with their wives and girlfriends. And some of them go from 0 to 60 right away.”
These women not only fear retaliation, but also have apprehension about their husbands losing their jobs, thus stifling their own economic future.
If they do report it they often run into skepticism from the same law enforcement system they are complaining to.
“A big part of police culture is the code of silence, the prosecutors depend on police for their cases, the police depend on each other – it’s a very insulated system,” says Wetendorf. Cops will all too often look the other way when it is “one of their own” facing accusations.
An example of this tendency to cover up domestic police abuse can be seen in the case of Jeremy Yachik. This monster beat and tortured his daughter for years. His girlfriend even filmed the abuse with her cellphone and brought the footage to the police department that Yachik worked for.
Also a study conducted by the Domestic Violence Task Force called Domestic Violence in the Los Angeles Police Department: How Well Does the Los Angeles Police Department Police Its Own? revealed that performance evaluations of cops with history of domestic violence are largely unaffected.The study of the Los Angeles Police Department further examined the 91 cases in which an allegation of domestic violence was sustained against an officer.
The report concluded that “employees with sustained allegations were neither barred from moving to desired positions nor transferred out of assignments that were inconsistent with the sustained allegation”
Wetendorf points out the most common fears when reporting police domestic abuse in her handbook:
If your abuser is an officer of the law, you may be afraid to:
These fears can make someone feel incredibly trapped and feel like there is no way out.
If you or someone you know is a victim of this type of abuse we encourage you to no longer remain silent. As long as people go unpunished for their abuse, they will continue their abuse.
Film it, record it, expose it in any manner you can. Tell us your story and we will expose these abusive jackboots for the cowards they are.
1 Johnson, L.B. (1991). On the front lines: Police stress and family well-being. Hearing before the Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families House of Representatives: 102 Congress First Session May 20 (p. 32-48). Washington DC: US Government Printing Office.
2 Neidig, P.H., Russell, H.E. & Seng, A.F. (1992). Interspousal aggression in law enforcement families: A preliminary investigation. Police Studies, Vol. 15 (1), p. 30-38.
3 P.H. Neidig, A.F. Seng, and H.E. Russell, “Interspousal Aggression in Law Enforcement Personnel Attending the FOP Biennial Conference,” National FOP Journal. Fall/Winter 1992, 25-28.