207661 Who are the defendants in domestic violence protection order cases?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kathryn E. Moracco, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Kathryn Andersen, PhD , Ipas, Chapel Hill, NC
Rebecca Buchanan, PhD , Westat, Rockville, MD
Christina Espersen, BS , Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Chapel Hill, NC
J. Michael Bowling, PhD , Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Courtney Duffy, BA , Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) are the most widely-used intimate partner violence (IPV)-related legal intervention in the United States, and there is emerging evidence that DVPOs are effective. However, little is known about DVPO defendants. We examined DVPO case files, criminal record background checks (n=731), and data from interviews with female plaintiffs in a subset of those cases (n=129), in order to obtain information about: 1) sociodemographic, relationship, mental health, and substance abuse history characteristics of male DVPO defendants; and 2) the proportion of male DVPO defendants with a history of IPV-related criminal charges. Half (51%) of the defendants had previous involvement with the criminal justice system for IPV-related offenses, and a substantial proportion had mental health issues (40%) and extensive alcohol and drug use. Plaintiffs reported that 82% of the defendants had consumed alcohol on at least one day during the previous month, and 59% of those men “always or often” got drunk when they consumed alcohol. 61% of plaintiffs reported that their partners had used drugs in the previous six months. Over three quarters (82%) of the plaintiffs had attempted to end their relationship with the defendant at least once; of those, 91% had made multiple attempts. Court personnel should be aware of the high level of violence DVPO plaintiffs are likely experiencing, and the potential danger posed by the defendants, and should ensure that expedited and appropriate civil protection is awarded. Concurrent treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues may enhance the effectiveness DVPOs.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the characteristics of male defendants in domestic violence protection order cases; 2. Explain why concurrent mental health and substance abuse treatment may enhance the effectiveness of DVPOs and batterer treatment programs.

Keywords: Domestic Violence, Violence Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the research, analyzed the data and wrote up the results.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.