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Measuring the Lifetime Experience of Domestic Violence: Application of the Life History Calendar Method

NCJ Number
Violence and Victims Volume: 17 Issue: 3 Dated: June 2002 Pages: 297-317
Mieko Yoshihama; Kimberly Clum; Alexandra Crampton; Brenda Gillespie
Roland D. Maiuro Ph.D.
Date Published
June 2002
21 pages
This article discussed the application and rationale of the Life History Calendar in increasing the recall of domestic violence victimization over the lifecourse and to develop a measure of lifetime domestic violence experience applicable to large-scale surveys.
A significant challenge in domestic research has been in obtaining valid and reliable data that have relied primarily on self-report. This article describes the application of the Life History Calendar (LHC) method to increase and facilitate respondents’ recall of the lifetime experience of domestic violence victimization. The LHC method involves a semi-structured interview schedule eliciting memorable and/or relatively easily recalled information of a personal nature and uses this information to aid in the retrieval of less easily recalled information. The application of the LHC in measuring domestic violence is likely to increase the quality of retrospective reports in several important ways. In the development and application of the LHC method, a face-to-face interview schedule was developed, the Life History Calendar of Domestic Violence (LHC-DV). The overall structure, format, organization, and contents of the LHC-DV are discussed. The challenges faced included: the subjectivity of personal experiences, the complex sequencing and nondiscrete nature of various life experiences, and variations in recall approaches. The LHC-DV was field tested in the spring of 2000 with 40 randomly selected low-income women from a large urban county in a Midwestern State. Two tape recorded interviews were conducted. The first included questions on the respondent’s sociodemographic and other characteristics and the second included questions on the respondent’s perceptions of the LHC-DV. Taped interviews showed that both the interviewer and the respondent actively, and often, used the calendar to remember events in question or to identify and correct discrepancies in the time sequence of events. The strengths of LHC-DV lie in its ability to provide multiple memory cues and the use of a calendar format that facilitates consistency checks in the reported timing of various events. The field test indicated the feasibility and effectiveness of the LHC in a study of domestic violence. Tables and references


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