This is something which I used to argue about when living in East Africa, as I too am unable to come to terms with domestic violence, whether it take the form of spouse abuse, child abuse or elder abuse. The argument put forward for spouse abuse by male African colleagues was always based on the pride and affection which they had for their wives, which in turn led to various forms of jealousy. "How can she understand that I love her unless I beat her from time to time?" they would ask me. I, for my part, couldn't accept that if they loved their wives they would feel this urge to hit them. There was one extreme case where the husband was quite insanely jealous of his wife and when he went away on business would lock away her clothes so that she could not leave the house. He would phone her to keep a watch on her and if she answered too quickly would ask her who she was expecting to hear from and if she answered too slowly would demand to know what she had been up to. He would beat her up so badly that she would end up in hospital.
When it comes to the way in which the police deal with it, the main bugbear is the tendency of people within a domestic situation to withdraw their statements or refuse to make them in the first place, from a number of motives. It is all very well to say that people who behave like this should go to prison, but that gives rise to all sorts of further problems for the family concerned of a kind which it is hard to anticipate until it has actually happened. One obvious example is that of a man in a well paid job whose career is ruined for the rest of his life because of a criminal conviction of this kind and who therefore is unable to provide for the family as before. Besides, I don't believe that going to prison cures violence. There has to be some other way of treating it. The problem is: what?