We all know that family violence is a problem in Pennsylvania. But we may often resort to stereotypes about domestic violence, making false assumptions about domestic violence and the people involved. For example, many people assume that:
- Domestic violence only involves violence against a spouse or children, and
- Only bad people hurt the people they love.
But domestic violence involves much more than physical assault, including stalking, harassment, and other harmful behaviors. Moreover, the underlying causes of family violence are far more complex. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the factors leaving families most vulnerable to domestic violence include:
- Low income, self-esteem, and education,
- Mental illness,
- Depression and suicide attempts,
- A history of physical or emotional abuse in childhood,
- Anger and hostility, and
- Heavy alcohol and drug use.
Substance abuse can cause impulsivity, aggression, and irritability. It can also greatly increase other factors leaving a family vulnerable to domestic violence, such as economic stress, depression and other mental illnesses, anger and hostility, and an unstable home environment.
Domestic Violence Treatment and Drug Use
Fortunately, courts are now more aware of the intersection between domestic violence and substance abuse. The American Society of Addiction Medicine reports that substance abuse co-occurs in 40 to 60% of reported domestic violence incidents. As a result, drug treatment is often included as a condition of bail, diversion programs, suspended or reduced sentences, probation, and release from jail.
- Batterer's Evaluation In Pennsylvania, those convicted of domestic violence will face mandatory treatment programs and a “batter's evaluation.” This evaluation will involve assessments that measure the risk to the victim and explore your family history, abuse you faced as a child, drug and alcohol use, and other risk factors.
- Domestic Violence Treatment As part of your conviction or release, the court will require you to undergo anger management treatment, a domestic violence intervention program, counseling, or another treatment program. You will also likely face mandatory drug abuse treatment. Both domestic violence and drug abuse treatment programs utilize group and individual therapy. But programs that treat both domestic violence and substance abuse problems do exist. A drug abuse treatment program for someone accused of domestic violence should include anger management therapy and an exploration of a family history of violence or abuse that may have led to repeated patterns of physical abuse and drug abuse in your adult life. Treatment programs aim to decrease family violence by:
- Promoting victim safety and preventing future violence,
- Helping you identify abusive behaviors,
- Teaching you alternative to violence or abuse,
- Educating you about the impact of domestic violence on family relationships and children, and
- Helping you examine attitudes that may have led to violence.
Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you're facing a domestic violence charge in Pennsylvania and struggling with a substance abuse problem, help is available. To ensure you get the help you need and protect your rights in the criminal justice system, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his experienced Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm are well-versed in Pennsylvania criminal defense and domestic violence charges. They've been helping people like you for years. Find out what they can do for you. Give the Lento Law Firm a call today at 888.535.3686, or contact them online to schedule a consultation.