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Prosecution of Batterers: View of African American Battered Women

NCJ Number
Violence and Victims Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2002 Pages: 19-34
Date Published
16 pages

This study evaluated the legal advocacy for battered African American women in Detroit, Michigan.


Findings from this research revealed that 65 percent of the participants surveyed (207 African American women from Detroit, Michigan) favored prosecution of their abusers, and a history of abuse increased their desire for prosecution. These women cited abuse as illegal and unacceptable as one of the top reasons for wanting their batterers prosecuted. The most common reason for opposing prosecution was the incident was not serious or it was the first time the partner had been abusive. This study adds to the literature concerning domestic violence and specifically, includes the opinions of the victim. Moreover, this study gives voice to victims that are often not included in the research: African American women. The current literature is mixed on whether African American women seek social services for domestic violence at the same rates as European American women. The history of racism and a lack of cultural sensitivity may hinder African American women from seeking needed services. The results of this study showed these participants overwhelmingly wanted their abusers to be prosecuted and felt more so if they were not married to or living with him. A surprising finding emerged whereas women with more formal education did not favor prosecution more than women with minimal education. A few limitations of this study include the likelihood that this sample was not representative of African American battered women in Detroit as many women do not contact the police following an incident, and the prior criminal history of the batterers were not known. Future research could shed light on what influences African American women towards prosecution of their batterers, why they drop charges as the prosecution moves forward (if applicable), and how to encourage them to seek assistance from social service agencies following an incident. Tables, references

Date Published: January 1, 2002