Criminal Justice Response to
Domestic Violence: Theoretical
Disciplinary biases within the studies of psychology, sociology, criminology, or within political agendas of activists, unavoidably influence theories of domestic violence (Heise, 1998). However, no single theoretical perspective dominates the field (Michalski, 2005). Based upon the work by Danis (2003), this chapter explores four theoretical frameworks that inform criminal justice responses to domestic violence: social learning, social exchange/deterrence, feminist, and ecological. The chapter briefly describes each theoretical perspective and how it contributes to the community response to domestic violence. For example, social learning theory suggests that violence is learned and can be unlearned, providing the basis for promoting the use of battering intervention programs. Social exchange/deterrence theory provides the framework for issuing protective orders, arrest, prosecution, and sanctions. Feminist theory influenced advocates to frame the issue of domestic violence as a social problem supported by a patriarchal system. Finally, the various levels of the ecological framework integrate social learning theory, social exchange/deterrence theory, and feminist theory into a formalized community response (Danis, 2003).