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Is There a Protection Order to Prison Pipeline? Gendered Dimensions of Cross-Petitions

NCJ Number
Journal of Aggression , Maltreatment and Trauma Dated: 2019
A. Durfee; L. Goodmark
Date Published

This study examined one facet of the domestic violence “abuse-to-prison” pipeline – cross-filings for protection orders.


There is extensive debate about whether criminal justice responses are appropriate or effective in helping domestic violence (DV) victim/survivors achieve safety. Supporters argue that criminalization best protects victim/survivors; others have expressed serious concerns about the unintended consequences of criminalization. Victim/survivors (especially women of color) are routinely made more vulnerable by the legal resources designed to help them. They are often arrested with or instead of their abuser, prosecuted for DV as “victim-defendants,” and reported to governmental agencies such as child protection services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Even the protection order system may not provide safety, especially when abusers are able to obtain protection orders against victim/survivors. In addressing this issue, the current study analyzed 313 cross-filings for protection orders, comparing them to 1,004 single-filings. Findings indicate that cross-filings are a gendered phenomenon, with men more likely to be involved in cross-filings than women, and men less likely than women to report the types of abuse that qualifies for an order. Cross-filings may be an example of abusers leveraging the legal system to extend control over victim/survivors, rendering victim/survivors ineligible for resources and making them vulnerable to arrest and other forms of state control. (publisher abstract modified)