The prevalence of domestic violence is staggering. There are widely held misconceptions about
domestic violence. Some of these misconceptions are: 1) abuse is mutual, 2) victims provoke
and deserve the abuse they get, and 3) victims could easily leave the relationship if they truly
wanted to. It is the goal of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy to debunk these and other
myths. The immediate safety of victims and any involved children should be the primary
concern of law enforcement officers. After immediate safety is addressed, it is the responsibility
of the law enforcement officer to follow-up with victims to provide referrals to community
agencies that can assist in safety planning and providing long-term support. Law enforcement
officers are most effective when they are part of a network of support for victims, making it more
likely for victims to escape abusive relationships.
There are many potential partners for working to reduce domestic violence. Some of these are
victim advocates, district attorneys, faith community leaders, and schoolteachers. Aggressive
intervention and enforcement by public safety officials can reduce: 1) domestic violence
homicide, 2) repeat intimate partner calls for service, and 3) the devastating effect domestic
violence has on children.
Inappropriate dual arrests have occurred in the past and continue to occur, putting victims of
domestic violence in a position of being re-victimized by being labeled a “mutual combatant.”
Many times, victims of domestic violence are in fear of imminent bodily injury and they defend
themselves either by striking first or by fighting back. Many times, there are injuries to both
parties. It is the goal of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy to train officers on how to properly
identify the Predominant Aggressor and arrest that person.
Prosecution is a method of intervention that can significantly increase the probability of ending
abuse. Aggressive investigation and thorough documentation greatly improve the chances of
successful prosecution. This involves follow-up by law enforcement to re-interview the victim,
interview the witnesses, take more photographs, or collect more evidence when the prosecution goes
forward without a cooperative victim.
Review the history of law enforcement response to domestic violence incidents.
Identify the problems of dual arrests at domestic violence incidents.
Define probable cause, self-defense, and predominant aggressor.
Identify defense wounds. Identify how to use the “Decision Tree” to determine the predominant aggressor in a domestic violence scenario.