In the fall of 1995, the City of Phoenix Police Department convened a special group of people known to be deeply involved with the social and personal aspects of domestic violence. This group, which came to be called the Phoenix Police Department’s Joint Task Force on Domestic Violence, consisted of police and criminal justice personnel, social service and health care providers, and a number of interested community members.Task Force members soon began earnest discussions on how best to reduce the incidence of domestic violence, a crime that is, sadly, the number one call for police service in the City of Phoenix.
The goal was ambitious. At times, Task Force meetings suggested the well—known fable involving six blind men and an elephant. One blind man touches the elephant’s leg and proclaims an elephant is like a tree trunk. Another touches the elephant’s trunk and says an elephant is like a hose. Another touches the elephant’s tail and says an elephant is like a rope. And so it goes, each man sensing only a small portion of the elephant with no one able to see the animal as a whole.
The domestic violence problem, like that elephant, stands huge and diverse. The people involved in the domestic violence system, like those blind men, see only a part of its entirety and therefore hold conflicting, yet legitimate, viewpoints on how best to address the problem. Such conflicts, unresolved, can create tension among the very groups whose cooperation is essential for effectively dealing with domestic violence. The aim of the Task Force was to reduce those conflicts and resolve significant issues.
One surprising barrier hampered initial discussions. The group lacked an overall framework of the system that they could use in defining problems and identifying needs. To surmount this barrier, a "road map" of the entire domestic violence system had to be developed. That road map, pictured in Figure 1, identified four discrete segments of the system:
This publication, Hitting Home: Voices of Domestic Violence, visits the four distinct destinations depicted on the system road map. Based on interviews with representatives of each segment, it attempts to give the system a chance to speak for itself. The voices are real, the opinions strong and emotional. And reading these honest and often brutally frank stories affords an unprecedented glimpse into the depths of the domestic violence crisis.
Not surprisingly, even with such diverse speakers, recurring themes emerge from the voices. Taken as a whole, they tell of generally acknowledged needs as well as broad avenues of agreement among those most intimately involved in the system. As a group, they offer direction to future efforts aimed at combatting domestic violence.
Home was researched and written by staff and consultants of the
Morrison Institute for Public Policy, School of Public Affairs, Arizona
State University. This publication was produced for the City of Phoenix
Police Department as part of a collaborative proposal to the U.S. Department
of Justice for Community Policing to Combat Domestic Violence.
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