|Civil Protection Orders and Risk of Subsequent Police-Reported Violence
Authors: Victoria L. Holt, Mary A. Kernic, Thomas Lumley, Marsha E. Wolf, and Frederick P. Rivara
Published: Journal of the American Medical Association, V. 288 (5), August 7, 2002, 589-594.
What is the scope of this study?
This research analyzes the data, and presents evidence regarding protection order effectiveness in Seattle, WA.
What is a civil order of protection and how is it obtained?
A civil order of protection is a legally binding court order. Its intent is to compel an individual, who has committed a violent act, to refrain from further acts of violence against the person who has been granted the order. A victim of domestic violence obtains a protection order by completing an application wherein he/she describes the violence from which relief is sought and identifies the perpetrator. The order is granted to a victim by a judge or commissioner. A temporary protection order, if granted, covers a 2-week time period after which a court hearing determines if the petitioner will be awarded a "permanent" protection order (i.e., lasts a year or longer). The perpetrator is informed of the victim's complaint, the behaviors prohibited by the protection order, and when the court will hear arguments for a permanent order of protection.
How was this study conducted?
The authors of this study looked at all reports to the Seattle, WA, Police Department from August 1998 through December 1999 that were made by women about intimate partner violence. This resulted in a large sample size (N = 2,691).
Researchers reviewed these police reports, noting the first and any subsequent reports of intimate partner violence by the same perpetrator against the same victim. The researchers also looked at whether and/or when a subject applied for a temporary and/or a permanent order of protection against the perpetrator. Seattle's King County Court provided information regarding protection order status.
Researchers defined three conditions during which the protection order effectiveness was evaluated:
This study provides evidence that protection orders can help protect women from violence by intimate partners. Several factors affected the use and effectiveness of this legal remedy.
In this study civil protection orders appeared to be effective remedies for intimate partner violence for most women. However, the study raises some questions. It is unknown if rates of reporting of recurrent intimate partner violence reflected actual rates of recurrence of violence, or if the reporting of continued violence differed according to protection order status. This study's methodology precluded gathering such information; researchers had no direct contact with victims.
The results and questions raised by this study suggest directions for future research. The authors of this study suggest that researchers explore factors that influence a woman's initiative and ability to use protection orders. These factors should include personality characteristics of victims as well as other, environmental elements that affect a woman's resolve to seek help to stop the violence.
Reviewed by Priscilla Schulz, LCSW
November 11, 2002
Center for Trauma Recovery
University of Missouri - St. Louis