According to a recent study conducted by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the problem with sexual and other physical abuse perpetrators in the United States may be a lot worse than we had realized. The NCADV estimates that nearly 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner in this country every minute on average. During a single calendar year, this breaks down to more than 10 million women and men.
Throughout the course of their lifetimes, one out of every three women and one out of every four men experience physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner. One out of every seven women will become the victim of a stalker at some point in her life, and on a typical day, more than 20,000 phone calls will be placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
But the truly harrowing statistics have to do with women who are killed in these types of situations. Between 2003 and 2008, for example, there were 142 women who were murdered in their workplaces by their abusers. Seventy-eight percent of the women killed in the workplace during this time fell into this category. This is just when you take workplace fatalities into account; when you open that examination up to women who are killed in their homes, the real numbers are much, much higher.
All of this demands the question: How many women have to die before serial abusers are actively monitored by law enforcement officials around the country? The technology already exists, and it is more affordable than ever. People regularly use GPS-enabled chips to track everything from their cars to their pets to their kids, their car keys and so much more. It’s easy to say that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. Actually doing something about it seems to be something else entirely.
The case for tracking serial abusers
Newspapers around the United States are sadly filled with stories about serial abusers doing the unthinkable — killing their victims — on a regular basis. One such example is David Bradford, a serial abuser who went to jail for stalking his wife. Just a short few days after Bradford was released on bail, he traveled to his wife’s home and — with her four young children on the property — killed her. This forced the state government to review its current parole system practices, but again, saying and doing are two totally different things.
On this particular topic, there is actually quite a bit that we can learn from Australia. In March 2017, Parliament passed a law that allowed the courts to impose GPS tracking devices on repeat offenders who were granted bail. Not only did this let law enforcement constantly monitor their activities, but it also created a system where someone with a domestic violence order is alerted when that person is being considered for parole. It also provides instructions about how to file an appeal, contains information about the bail application process, and so much more.
The United States currently has no such system in place, at least not nationwide
The Australian government has also committed itself to buying tracking devices in a monitoring program that will begin rolling out shortly, although this is likely a classic case of too little, too late. For starters, the program will only allow for the purchase of 510 tracking devices. Second, administrative costs for the program — along with the devices themselves — will cost taxpayers $35 million over the next six years.
When statistics paint such a clear image of a problem taking place around the world, it is absolutely certain that something must be done. The GPS technology to track serial abusers and other repeat offenders is already there. It’s just that these programs (and the victims they’re supposed to benefit) are still waiting for the laws to catch up. How many more women have to die before serial abusers are tracked on a regular basis? Unfortunately, the answer to that question remains to be seen.