Police-reporting behavior and victim-police interactions as described by women in a domestic violence shelter

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Previous research has addressed the motivations of domestic violence victims to contact police and police responses to domestic violence calls. In a study of 498 women who entered a battered women's shelter, a questionnaire was used to elicit types of abuse they experienced, police contact, and police-victim interactions. Approximately 58% of victims called the police in response to physical, emotional, and other forms of domestic abuse; however, less than one fourth of the batterers were arrested. Batterers who physically abused their victims or used other forms of abuse such as sexual abuse or stalking were more frequently arrested compared to those batterers who used emotional abuse. The women arrested for domestic violence felt that they had acted in self-defense. These results suggest that the police response to domestic violence is variable and the majority of batterers, regardless of type of abuse, may not be receiving any legal or therapeutic intervention.

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Journal of Interpersonal Violence, v. 14, issue 12, p. 1290-1298.