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Intimate Partner Violence in U.S. Metropolitan Areas: The Contextual Influences of Police and Social Services

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 50 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2012 Pages: 961-992
Min Xie; Janet L. Lauritsen; Karen Heimer
Date Published
November 2012
32 pages
This study explored that factors that affect levels of intimate partner violence in large metropolitan areas.
Although community responses to the problem of intimate partner violence typically focus on increasing and improving policing and social services, few studies have examined the relationship among police force size, social service providers, and women's safety at home. To address this issue, the authors used data from the National Crime Victimization Survey to examine patterns of intimate partner violence for 40 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) over a 16-year period (1989-2004). The authors analyzed the data using three-level multilevel models, with individual respondents (N = 487,166) nested within years, nested within MSAs. Net of other important individual and contextual factors, the results show that women's likelihood of victimization is significantly lower in MSAs that employ more sworn officers per capita, whereas the states' mandatory arrest laws are not found to have significant independent effects. Above and beyond the effects of police force size, the authors also find a significant negative relationship between the size of the social service workforce and intimate partner violence. Future research should develop collaborative data collection efforts to examine the specific activities of police and social service workers in dealing with intimate partner violence so that the mechanisms underlying these significant relationships can be understood more clearly. (Published Abstract)