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Perceptions of the Police by Female Victims of Domestic Partner Violence

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 9 Issue: 11 Dated: November 2003 Pages: 1318-1335
Date Published
November 2003
18 pages

This study examined female domestic violence victims’ perceptions of the police.


Although typically the police act as the first line of defense for battered women, little is known about how battered women perceive their interactions with police. The goal of the current study was to learn what victims expected from police, the extent to which they obtained a desirable outcome, and how helpful they considered the police to be. Ninety-five consecutive female victims of domestic violence who made contact with the police in a Boston suburb were interviewed. Victims were administered a five-point Likert-type scale in which they were asked to rate several aspects of police actions during the event. Results of statistical analysis revealed that victims considered the police very helpful in domestic violence situations and more than 80 percent would call police again for a similar incident. Most victims who requested help with a restraining order or with the arrest of their assaulter, received help. However, those requesting help locating counseling services were not helped by police. Another significant finding was that victims’ willingness to call police in the future was not diminished when police arrested the assaulter despite the victims objections. The results of this study and studies like it have implications for the role of police officers in domestic violence situations. Questions are raised about what role officers should fulfill in a domestic violence situation, and in police work in general. Tables, notes, references

Date Published: November 1, 2003