Wife Assault, The Justice System and Professional Responsibility


  • Diana Ginn




The author reviews the response of the criminal justice system to the problem of wife assault by focusing on the key players within the system. The way the criminal law applies to wife assault affects battered women's access to that area of law known as family law, with negative repercussions for them and their children. Several myths about the nature of wife assault help ensure an inappropriate response. These include the myths that the woman is to blame, that by just leaving the abusive situation she can resolve it, and that if she does not leave it is because she enjoys the abuse. The author reviews current methods used by police, prosecutors and judges for dealing with wife assault and discusses the inadequacies of those methods. She concludes that despite many recommendations for change, there have been no significant improvements in the way the criminal justice system deals with wife assault. It is incumbent upon the legal profession to demonstrate professional responsibility by ensuring that wife assault is taken more seriously than it is now and than it has been in the past. This is a necessary reform before battered women can rely on the criminal justice system.