The violence associated with domestic violence is perpetual in the lives of the victim, family, communities, and the world. This crime permeates in a methodical, escalating manner that the victim doesn’t realize the lethality until it is too late, too late to escape, too late to ask for help, and too late to survive. Although the potential lethality of every domestic violence victim is escalating, all parties including the victim, family members, co-workers, neighbors, and the criminal justice system will minimize with the simple phrase “it’s not that bad” … but it is that bad.
Over 50% of female homicides are domestic violence, 65% of all murder-suicides are domestic violence, over 40% of officer fatalities involve domestic violence, 20% of domestic violence homicides were innocent bystanders, and this does not include all levels of assault or types of abuse in the form of physical, sexual, mental, and property. It is estimated that 20% of all criminal cases involve domestic violence which mirrors the data observing 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
Frustration is a common emotional response by all parties involved in domestic violence. Victims are frustrated with the system. Officers were frustrated with the victim, prosecutors, and the courts. Prosecutors are frustrated with the victim, officers, and the courts. The courts were frustrated with the victim, witnesses, officers, and the prosecutor. Amazing how the one person no one is frustrated with is the “bad guy” because they are acting the way everyone expects.
However, with over 30 years of experience from the street to the training room to the courtroom and back to the community, Marchman has been able to work with agencies and communities to make a positive impact by utilizing those frustrations and lethality indicators as basic elements to hold the offender accountable while enhancing the safety of the victim. It can be done, but everyone must employ an open mind while employing the observation of the legal phrase: the totality of circumstances.
Please visit the various approaches Marchman has employed and enjoyed positive impacts through award and grant-winning initiatives in multiple communities.
Task Force Development
After meeting with individuals in a large, but rural county in Florida where there are very few services other than a victim advocate and small sheriff’s office, the advocate asked, “Where do you begin in the fight against domestic violence”. The answer was simple, “With a blank canvas, a task force or collaboration is the best approach because it brings everyone to the table in the beginning and eliminates silos.”
A domestic violence task force is a multidisciplinary community collaboration consisting of government agencies, community-based agencies, survivors of family violence, concerned community members, and professionals of the criminal justice and healthcare fields. The focus is on increasing victim safety and offender accountability through coordinating local services and effecting change through creating a coordinated community response to domestic violence.
With everyone at the table, then a coordinated community response (CCR) can be developed. A CCR is an intervention strategy that employs an interagency approach to address domestic violence and protect victims. To foster a coordinated community response to domestic violence, task forces may establish additional committees to address barriers that victims face while attempting to become safe and gaps where offenders may slip through.
Marchman can utilize past knowledge and experience to create a presentation to encourage collaboration so the organization can overcome resistance to change and encourage innovative thinking to establish the values, vision, and mission of the group in a transparent method that will build trust among the partners. Examples of the stages that will be utilized can be found in the Programs and Leadership tabs on the Main Page.
Evidence of the success is the Rockdale Task Force Against Family Violence which was recognized as the Georgia Family Violence Task Force of the Year and its Chair, Judge Nancy Bills was subsequently awarded the Georgia Task Force Member of the Year. All were achieved within three years of Marchman rebooting the task force and utilizing his methods.
If a prosecutor seeks to take the lead in the development of a dedicated calendar, enhance prosecutors’ training, develop a multi-disciplinary team, or there is a specific grant opportunity directed at prosecutors, Marchman can assist in the efforts to enhance the prosecution of domestic violence cases.
Action items that we can help with are conducting a caseload analysis for domestic violence cases, provide training in the form of introductory, investigation, or prosecution including expert testimony, facilitate team building and policy development, grant development, and program implementation. Every initiative will focus on expediting the cases, reducing the nolle pross rate while increasing the plea rate and increasing the number of wins during trials. The prosecution can win even if the courts are difficult, or the officers do not provide thorough cases.
An example of these programs that Marchman has success with is the Innovative Prosecution Solutions Program from the Bureau of Justice Assistance efforts to encourage exploration of new solutions to public safety concerns, as well as address internal operations and organizational structure of prosecutor’s offices. The program is intended to support prosecutors as leaders among their criminal justice partners and develop criminal justice strategies focused on reducing violent crime. One such program is a team approach for homicide prevention efforts with domestic violence cases to identify lethality indicators early to reduce the number of fatalities.
Family Violence Courts
Marchman Consulting has enjoyed success with the implementation of domestic violence courts in various forms whether it is emphasizing bond condition compliance, addressing co-occurring disorders, dedicated court calendars, or an intense focus for post-adjudication on probation conditions. No matter the approach if the initiative focuses on enhancing victim safety and holding the victim accountable via a collaboration while reducing the recidivism rate. In addition, Marchman’s approaches move judges into the response to utilize their leverage.
In the Georgia Commission on Family Violence Courts Best Practices (https://gcfv.georgia.gov/resources/georgia-domestic-violence-courts-best-practices) he is quoted “…emphasizing the importance of judicial leadership in domestic violence courts, noted, “The Judge must champion the court, must lay the groundwork and expectations and must pay attention to all the moving parts.”
Establishing a specialized court operation in domestic violence cases will provide a consistent response by the judicial system, support for victims, and offender accountability due to more consistency in the handling of domestic violence cases. The courts will also streamline the delivery of services available to victims and their children, as well as process cases expeditiously to reduce the effect of a batter’s intimidation to influence his partner into dropping charges.
It should be noted that domestic violence courts differ from accountability courts because they do not offer rewards or graduations and recidivism should be dealt with sanctions that reflect the serious nature of the issue, not as a relapse.
If a jurisdiction is interested in the process to assess, analyze, apply for grants, and implement processes, please visit the Programs tab to see the successful steps Marchman employs to develop these court programs.
Law Enforcement Training
Instead of the basic, mandated training that law enforcement normally receives, Marchman employs a different tactic that will initially focus on the frustrations of domestic violence for first responding officers. In the Psychology of Domestic Violence class, he will utilize the acknowledged frustrations to reduce implicit bias and how to use the frustrations as confirmed, predictable behaviors to validate the officer’s ability and apply the information in the report’s narrative. Subsequent training information will include recognizing behaviors, determining the primary aggressor, interviewing, investigative techniques, law, report writing, resources for victims, follow-up, and testifying.
The training is based on the programs that Marchman offered while he was a Senior Instructor at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center and with the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association with 4-, 8-, 24-, and 40-hour blocks of the first responder and investigator training.
A natural source that victims may turn to is their local church or faith-based organization. However, this may be the same source that the perpetrator may utilize to validate their actions. As with all other entities, there remains a level of ignorance of behavioral traits demonstrated by either party that may confuse who to believe, how to respond, or even create an element that prevents members from responding. The sessions will provide a basic understanding of domestic violence including behavioral traits, how to respond, resources to utilize, and examples of scripture that the batterer may employ.
It is widely known that children also endure being physically and/or emotionally abuse while watching a parent being abused by another. A logical venue that a child may “act out” with aggression or offer “spontaneous utterances” is in the presence of a childcare worker. The training will offer childcare workers a basic understanding of the behavioral traits of victims and perpetrators, behavioral traits of children living in homes of violence, mandatory reporting requirements, and elements to provide investigations, as well as safety measures to employ at the childcare facility.
Victim Advocate/Battered Women’s Shelter
As for services for Victim Advocates and Battered Women’s Shelter, it is limited because Marchman Consulting seeks to provide an array of services that solely support the advocates and shelters. As the former President of the Board for the local shelter, he fully understands the advocates and directors have their plates full and we need to elevate some of the workloads. For example, one of Marchman’s golden rules for task forces is the advocate and shelter director will play no role in the leadership…they are already stressed from everyday leadership.