Shift work and the effect on officers report

Domestic violence is a multifaceted idea but can roughly be referred to as exhibition of abusive behaviors towards a mate in an intimate relationship such as family setting, dating instances, marriage, cohabitation and even friendship. These abuses are usually used to control the other partner in a relationship (, 2009). This paper therefore sets out to look at the possibility of the work schedule being a contributing factor to the ever rising domestic violence among the policing families. It also seeks to expand on the responses that have been made to mitigate the effects of the shift working system on the violence in homes.

Depending on the context and region of use, domestic violence can be called domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, spousal abuse or even family violence. However, all these manifest themselves in various forms including but not limited to: Physical violence/attack (like shoving, kicking, slapping, hitting, restraining etc.), passive/covert abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, stalking, intimidation, economic deprivation and controlling or domineering.

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It is estimated that a third of the abuses are the ones that are reported in the U.S.A. And UK. Among these reported, the majority are women. This begs the understanding of what women really go through and what affects them and how in these abusive relationships. There are various social and even cultural issues that intertwine to play a role in the stay of women in abusive relationships:

Many women stay in abusive relationship due to the “battered women’s syndrome.” This is an effect of persistence that women from abusive families in their young age develop and keep maintaining their relationships even though they are being abused (KUED, 2011).

Shift work and the effect on officers

In order for the officers to effectively handle the demands that are bestowed upon them by the state and society, they need to be in the best form both physically and psychologically. Unfortunately this is not usually the case as there is too much expectations and work pressure that they come across and have little time to rest.

Human beings are not nocturnal hence the night shift suppresses the natural cycle of the human beings. The rotating shifts wreak havoc on the biological and social adjustment of the officers as well as infringing on the normal flow of the life of his family as well (Beverly J.A., 2002). This is manifest in the negative or repulsive attitude that the police officer tends to adapt once he goes back home after the shift, where he will impose a silence order on the children, the phone will have to be picked on the first ring and various other such restrictions that are easily broken resulting, most of the time, in the children being beaten or the mother physically abused.

Another fundamental leading factor to domestic violence is the distance that is created between the officer and the wife and children. Every time they need the father at home, he is out on the shift and whenever he is at home he is tired and asleep. This erratic schedule that is not in line with the normal family schedule will create a distance, both physically and emotionally between the father and the rest of the family. This will then mean that the family will be prone to verbal abuse or even physical violence since the strong bond that binds the family together is missing due to the work schedule of the father.

There has been a shift in the thinking and action of the police of late. The oaths that they took were to protect the public and the domestic violence was not treated as public but as a private issue that it would be inappropriate for the law enforcement to interfere in and try to intervene, not until recently that this changed. The police officers have such a strong sense of police family that they tend to overlook the police domestic violence as a form of violence that needs due attention. Most of the time when such a thing happens, the police families would like to keep it secret and let it be dealt with in-house (Diane Watendorf, 2000). The feminists successfully demonstrated how such a view and provision was discriminatory and allowed the public to abuse children and women in their homes with impunity. From their lobbying, the treatment of domestic violence as a private matter was discarded and the responsibility bestowed upon the police hence expanded to cover the responsibility to protect the private citizens, victims of domestic violence inclusive.

With the extensive working hours, an officer who goes for regular shifts is likely to suffer ‘burn-out’ which will make him not only a human being walking in pain but also a non-productive member of the team. If this officer is a husband or a wife, then once they reach the burn-out then they cannot effectively execute their duties domestically. In order to cope with this burn out then they can no longer keep it within them but start to blame other and portraying projection behaviors, detachment and withdrawal. As a result, the officer may end up in domestic violence against the kids or wife, a result of the work schedule.

The officers in this category are also likely to look for coping ways which may include smoking, gambling, overeating, spending sprees and to some extent excessive drinking. These may then lead to domestic violence especially once the person spends everything and cannot fend for his family and may be frustrated and violent when asked to provide for the family, or can just be quite abusive once they are drunk.

To emphasize on the extent to which the lack of adequate sleep is catastrophic to the police officers, CBS Interactive (2010) indicates that the sleep loss has three basic areas that it affects; motor performance, the cognitive function of the individual and the mood. It goes further to note that of the three the most affected is the mood of the individual. This impairs their ability to deal with matter of day-to-day and for the police officers the results are more dangerous than the other lots since it can result in them getting accidents while on patrol, shootings, wrong use of force that makes him not know the boundary and extends the authority into the house and may be violent in the house thinking that the wife is challenging his authority as an officer and not view himself as a husband then.

The domestic violence cannot be effectively handled by the police unit alone but will require a concerted from the court system of America as well. This need has consequently seen the formation of Domestic Violence Courts by the turn of 2000s. This was prompted by the rising rates of domestic violence by the end of twentieth century.

With the escalating numbers of violence, the congress ratified the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and thereafter the Domestic Violence Task Force was formed to assist the courts in handling the domestic violence issues as well as to create awareness of the menace to the society. With an increase of an astonishing 178% from 1989 to 1998 (Keilits, 2004), the drug courts were used as models to form the specialized courts handling domestic violence with a range of services to the victims as well as the offenders.


Beverly J.A., (2002). The Echoes of Violence in the Police Family. Retrieved September 4, 2011


CBS Interactive. (2010). The Effects of Sleep Deprivation. Retrieved September 4, 2011


Diane Watendorf. (2000). The Impact of Police-Perpetrated Domestic Violence. Retrieved September 4, 2011 from (2009). Definition: Domestic violence. Retrieved September 4, 2011


Keilitz S. (2004). Specialization of Domestic Violence Case Management in the Courts: A

National Survey. Retrieved September 4, 2011 from KUED. (2011). Domestic Violence. Retrieved September 4, 2011 from

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