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Criminal Case Outcomes, Incarceration, and Subsequent Intimate Partner Violence

  • Research on Perpetrators and Victims of Family Violence
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Abstract

Given the centrality of court interventions to the U.S. response to intimate partner violence (IPV), it is crucial to evaluate their impact on reabuse. To do so, this study examined whether female IPV victims’ experiences of abuse in the year following a criminal court case against their partner varied by case outcome or by whether the batterer had or had not been incarcerated. Consistent with prior research, we found no main effect differences in reabuse trajectories by court case outcome or by incarceration. We also examined variables that might moderate the impact of case outcome and incarceration on reabuse and found that although batterer legal history did not affect the impact of case outcome, his age, Time 1 employment status, the couple’s Time 1 living arrangement, and duration of abuse did interact with case outcome. No variables tested moderated the relationship between incarceration and reabuse over time. Findings suggest that in certain cases there may be benefits to case outcomes that leave potential consequences hanging over the offender’s head. These results also add to the growing body of evidence questioning the efficacy of one-size-fits-all approaches to IPV cases.

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Notes

  1. One alternative interpretation of these findings is that rather than the original arrest altering batterer behavior, batterer employment status instead affects both victims’ willingness to report subsequent abuse to authorities and the readiness with which police officers record subsequent incidents (C.D. Maxwell, personal communication, December 3, 2003).

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Correspondence to Margret E. Bell.

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Margret E. Bell, National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), VA Boston Healthcare System, and Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine; Lauren Bennett Cattaneo, Department of Psychology, George Mason University; Lisa A. Goodman, Department of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology, Lynch School of Education, Boston College; Mary Ann Dutton, Department of Psychiatry, Georgetown University.

The material and opinions presented here do not necessarily reflect the official position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs. We express appreciation for the funding provided by the National Institute of Justice and the resources of the VA Boston Healthcare System and the National Center for PTSD that supported this work. We are also grateful for the assistance provided by Jane Murphy, Dorothy Lennig, and Michael Suvak.

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Bell, M.E., Cattaneo, L.B., Goodman, L.A. et al. Criminal Case Outcomes, Incarceration, and Subsequent Intimate Partner Violence. J Fam Viol 28, 489–502 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-013-9515-z

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