Whether communities define domestic violence as personal trouble, public issue, or both, the everyday environments for victims of domestic violence demand immediate attention. According to a statewide survey conducted for the Texas Council on Family Violence in 2002, Texans consider domestic violence a serious problem (Saurage, 2003). With an estimated prevalence rate of 6 out of 1,000 adults in Texas reporting domestic violence to local law enforcement in 2000, approximately 74% of 1,272 respondents in this survey indicated that they or someone they knew experienced some form of domestic violence in their lifetime (Saurage, 2003; Texas Department of Public Safety, 2000; United States Census Bureau, 2000). Most of the survey respondents, however, demonstrated a willingness to blame the abuse on the victims and considered domestic violence the result of circumstances beyond the batterer’s control (Saurage, 2003). Although public perceptions may connect the causes of violence to circumstances beyond individual control, the principle of holding batterers accountable for their behavioral choices is critical to intervention in domestic violence cases. How, then, does a community hold batterers accountable?
Many communities have developed an indigenous framework of institutions that intervene in domestic violence (Shepard & Pence, 1999). Against the backdrop of a Texas county that defines domestic violence as a public issue of social structure, this study examines the impact of legal sanctions upon the recidivism rates of men who commit domestic violence. It explores one aspect of a community holding batterers accountable through imposing civil and criminal sanctions for