Legal Mobilization and Intimate Partner Victimization

Project: Research project

Description

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious threat to the health of women and children. Approximately two million women in the United States are victimized by an intimate partner annually (Tjaden& Thoennes, 2000). One increasingly important resource for victims of IPV is domestic violence civil protection orders. Protection orders are obtained in the civil courts, are flexible, and can be tailored to fit the victims needs. Though the use of protection orders to combat IPV is increasing, we know relatively little about victims decisions to use (or not to use) protection orders to achieve safety in their intimate relationships. Using theories of legal mobilization (Black, 1973, 1976; Zemans, 1982) and legal consciousness (Ewick& Silbey, 1998; Marshall& Barclay, 2003; Merry, 1990; Nielsen, 2000) to guide our analysis, the present study is designed to better understand why some victims mobilize the civil court system as a resource by filing for a protection orders and, conversely, why some victims do not. Specifically, we will collect qualitative and quantitative data to examine how victims conceptualize the abuse they have experienced and the role of the legal system, who chooses to use protection orders, why they are used, the perceived costs and benefits of protection orders for victims, and the individual and structural barriers that prevent victims from filing for or receiving orders. Special attention will be paid to the intersectionalities of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and immigration status. There are two distinct phases to the project. In Phase I, 700 incoming clients of the five participating shelters in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area will be given a comprehensive survey about their and their abusers demographic characteristics, their informal support system, their history of violence, risk of homicide, use of and experiences with the legal system, and the perceived costs and benefits of filing for a protection order. These analyses will allow us to identify which individuals are most likely to perceive their situations as meriting legal intervention, which are most likely to file for a protection order, and whether the use of protection orders is associated with other forms of help-seeking. In Phase II, 100 shelter clients and 20 legal advocates/shelter staff will be purposively selected and interviewed about victims perceptions of the violence they have experienced, whether victims believe that their abuse merits legal intervention, the perceived costs, benefits, and efficacy of protection orders in preventing future violence, their perceptions of potential barriers to filing for an order, and victims experiences mobilizing the legal system.

Description

Project Description The project is designed to better understand why some victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) mobilize the court system as a resource by filing for domestic violence protection orders and why some victims do not. Specifically, we will collect quantitative (Phase I) and qualitative (Phase II) data to examine how victims conceptualize the abuse they have experienced and the role of the legal system, who chooses to use protection orders, why they are used, the perceived costs and benefits of protection orders for victims, and the individual and structural barriers that prevent victims from filing for or receiving orders.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date3/15/129/30/15

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $193,996.00

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victimization
mobilization
violence
legal system
civil court
abuse
costs
domestic violence
legal consciousness
resources
intersectionality
homicide
social status
immigration
experience
ethnicity