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Comparison of the Police Response to Heterosexual Versus Same-Sex Intimate Partner Violence

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal Volume: 13 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2007 Pages: 374-394
Date Published
April 2007
21 pages

This study compared the police response in similar cases of domestic violence involving same-sex and heterosexual couples.


Results indicated that when certain situational and individual factors were controlled, two factors were most likely to predict the likelihood of arrest for both heterosexual and same-sex couples: (1) mandatory-arrest policies for domestic violence and (2) offense seriousness. However, analysis of the police response to female and male same-sex couples revealed that several factors operated differently for female and male same-sex couples. For female same-sex couples, mandatory arrest policies were the single most significant factor impacting the likelihood of arrest and it was found that the offense did not need to be severe to end in arrest. For male same-sex couples, offense seriousness appeared to more heavily influence police arrest than mandatory arrest policies. In these cases, only serious offenses were treated as a serious criminal matter. The findings may indicate that the historical focus on females as the victims of domestic violence may be impacting police response to male same-sex couples, even in jurisdictions that have mandatory arrest policies for domestic violence. Data were drawn from the 2000 National Incident Reporting System database, which contains 176,488 intimate partner assaults and intimidation incident reports made to 2,819 police agencies in 19 States. A full 50 percent of these 176,488 intimate partner assault cases resulted in an arrest and 1,077 of the 176,488 cases involved same-sex partners. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to examine the data. Future research should focus on the impact of witnesses, the presence of children, and the history of intimate partner violence as influencing the likelihood of arrest in domestic violence situations. Tables, notes, references

Date Published: April 1, 2007