Wausau Pilot & Review

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of guest articles from community experts on domestic abuse, in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This article may contain information that is emotionally difficult and/or upsetting for some readers. Readers are encouraged to care for their safety and well being in ways that make sense for them and to reach out for support if needed.

To speak to an advocate who can assist you with safety and support, please call The Women’s Community 24/7/365 at 715-842-7323 or toll free at 988-665-1234.  If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact your local medical provider as soon as possible.

By Eric Soberg | Criminal Justice Faculty – Northcentral Technical College

The issue of domestic violence is both complex and intimate in nature.  The community response to domestic violence needs to adaptable to the complexity of the issue and equally sensitive to the intimate nature of these incidents.  Criminal justice programs play a critical role in helping to educate both students and those working in the field on current trends in response and best tactics in empathy to address these needs in the community.  Within the education system there is a two areas of significant impact that can be at play. 

The first is the education element.  Through proper instruction and techniques we can train the new generation of law enforcement professionals to be understanding of the dynamics of a domestic violence environment.  Students learn techniques for not only detecting the elements of power and control that are so prevalent in these relationships but also how to address those dynamics by rallying community resources towards the victim to potentially overcome these dynamics.  Students are taught the sensitive nature of these incidents and how to communicate empathy and understanding to the victims.  Ultimately, students learn that there is not a one size fits all response but that each situation and ever victim has unique hurdles to overcome and how to guide the victim and there families towards a better future.  The could be change will be immediate and dramatic or the change might be gradual and small.  Students learn not to place judgement on the process but to instead continue to show up for the victims and be a resource for them on behalf of the community the choose to serve.

The second element of impact is personal to the students.  Domestic violence does not discriminate on age.  Domestic violence can be experienced by the elderly in our population, to the prenatal impacts on development of an unborn child.  Nevertheless, it is important to note the significant prevalence of domestic violence within college age students.   College age students are at the greatest risk of experiencing domestic violence in relationships.  This means that some of our students are likely victims of domestic violence within their relationships.  This provides a unique inlet break the tactic of isolation that is a common tactic of perpetrators.  Victims can be educated on resources and how to break the cycle of power and control without alerting their perpetrators of the education they are receiving.  On the other hand, it is also likely that some of our students are potential perpetrators of domestic abuse.  These students also receive new insight into how there actions impact those that they are in relationships with and how to break their tendencies and stop the cycle of abuse. 

In the realm of criminal justice education, we possess a distinctive potential to influence the profession by employing various strategies, enhancing the quality of education, and implementing effective tactics. Furthermore, we have an important audience in the form of victims, whom we can empower to become advocates for themselves and their peers. Equally significant is the rare chance we have to directly engage with potential perpetrators who may not have sought out a formal education on this subject or fully comprehended the ramifications of their actions.

Domestic violence encompasses a wide spectrum of behaviors, underscoring the urgency of early detection and intervention as crucial steps in breaking the cycle. College programs represent an often overlooked yet vital opportunity to intervene and provide essential education on best practices, community resources, advocacy, and awareness to an audience in dire need of such knowledge.