‘Not bullet proof’: The complex choice not to seek a civil protection order for intimate partner violence

Jill Theresa Messing, Meredith E. Bagwell-Gray, Allison Ward-Lasher, Alesha Durfee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Protection orders (POs) are one legal system resource available to survivors of intimate partner violence. Many survivors choose not to obtain a PO, yet prior research has not examined the perspectives of these survivors. This study examined the open-ended survey responses (n = 308) regarding the choice not to obtain a PO by survivors residing in emergency shelters in the United States. Content analysis indicated that many survivors made deliberate decisions to not seek safety through this venue. Survivors indicated that a PO may increase their partner’s violence, identified substantial barriers, evaluated a PO as unnecessary, preferred alternative strategies, were dealing with complex partner dynamics, and chose to protect their loved ones by not seeking a PO. Women with marginalized identities, in particular, indicated that there are multiple costs to seeking interventions within the legal system. Structural changes are needed within the legal system to facilitate access to justice for survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-195
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Review of Victimology
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • Protection orders
  • help-seeking
  • intimate partner violence
  • legal interventions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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