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Police Must Pursue Battery and Domestic Violence Charges PDF Print E-mail
Written by By Diana Martinez | Editor   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 04:30

Domestic Violence Expert Says These Cases Must Be Taken Seriously

CSUN Professor of Sociology Vickie Jensen has counseled and worked with victims of domestic violence and provided seminar courses on the issue. Gender, criminology and domestic violence have been areas of her expertise and she also works with victims at the Van Nuys Neighborhood legal services.

Jensen told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol that in the case of former Councilmember Mario Hernandez, who filed a police report that alleged that Councilmember Maribel De La Torre physically attacked and strangled him, the San Fernando Police Department acted properly in refusing Hernandez' request to remove his police report once he filed it.

"The San Fernando police is acting admirably," Jensen said. "We have a dominant aggressor statute in 1993 and the police are required by law to figure out who the dominant aggressor is and the police are mandated to do that investigation. Any filing of [domestic violence] charges is a police matter."

Jensen points out that because victims recant their reports all the time it is up to the police, and not a victim's decision, to pursue an investigation.

"Victims are recanting all the time usually because of intimidation and the cycle of violence goes around. It's part of a larger manipulation with abusers claiming that things are going to change."

Jensen considers this to be an interesting case, and finds it especially commendable that the San Fernando Police Department understands that men can also be victims of abuse.

"Men who are real victims have real issues because there, it can be hard for law enforcement to get past the gender bias. It's usually against the tide of our society that women can be violent," Jensen said.

Women batterers usually fall into the category of emotional battering more than physical battering, Jensen said. But whoever the abuser is, whether it is a woman or a man, the same characteristics apply with a worldview that to them justifies their abuse.

"An abuser is an abuser and when they are violent, it is centered on a desire for power and control," she said.

The District Attorney's office is pursuing charges against De La Torre, which, according to Jensen, is an indication it has strong evidence to support the charge of battery.

Often, after domestic violence, there is a cycle with abusers expressing remorse and promises that the physical abuse will stop.

"Victims get that glimmer of hope and it begins with manipulation, and promises that everything will be perfect and there is the honeymoon period," Jensen said. "That's the illusion too, as the batterer is the first to take the blame. It doesn't have to be a man but it can be a woman too. They can say, 'I'm really sorry' and say 'I'll go to counseling and didn't we have really good times? So let's forget about all of this and start fresh.'"

People often people fall into this cycle, Jensen said, because they've invested in the relationship and there may also be financial issues, social pressures that can be very strong for some cultural groups.

"With the psychological issues and batterer's tactics, the point that people are trying to file restraining orders is amazing. When you get someone who is beat to hell and you have a criminal claim going forward, then the threats and manipulation begins."

Jensen said abused men in the gay community have many issues to contend with and are often reluctant to file police reports because they may not be "out," fearing that it could impact their employment if they have to come out in order to get a restraining order.

Battering in the gay male community is often discovered in emergency rooms, and Jensen said it has become so bad that it can't be ignored.

"We still don't have a society that accepts that," she said,

Courts often mandate treatment to give batterers a strategy so that they don't physically hurt anyone again, and while there are some that Jensen said have figured it out and really do change, "people have their own will and it is a tough nut to crack."

While De La Torre and Hernandez have given very different accounts of what occurred, it is clear that one of them perjured themselves. But, Jensen said, it takes resources from the court to go after perjury and the court has to pick its battles.

She points out, however, that the District Attorney's office pressing charges makes the point that these cases should be pursued.

"It is fantastic the San Fernando police are dealing with the evidence in the case. The police are duty bound to investigate the case from their own discovery, whether the victims are helpers in the prosecution or cannot be helpers, and if they have enough evidence they can pursue charges. The District Attorney doesn't typically go forward unless they have something significant," Jensen said.