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Perspectives on Civil Protective Orders in Domestic Violence Cases: The Rural and Urban Divide

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 266 Dated: June 2010 Pages: 4-8
Nikki Hawkins
Date Published
June 2010
5 pages
This study examined the impact of civil protective orders (CPOs) against perpetrators of domestic violence on the safety of their victims in five Kentucky jurisdictions.
The study findings overall suggest that CPOs are cost-effective in increasing victims' safety and reducing victims' fear. CPOs, sometimes known as restraining orders, may cover various situations, such as ordering an assailant to avoid a victim's home and workplace or forbid any contact with the victim, including by mail or telephone. Urban and rural women victims had similar views of the CPOs' effectiveness; however, rural women confronted more barriers to getting a CPO and having it enforced, which translated into their experiencing less relief from fear and abuse through CPOs. The study also examined the role of stalking in CPO violations, finding that they were less effective for stalking victims than for other victims of domestic violence. Stalking after the CPO was issued was associated with violence, suggesting that those who stalk their victims are more violent and resistant to compliance with CPOs. The cost-effectiveness analysis indicated that every dollar spent on the CPO intervention produced $30.75 in avoided costs to society. The State of Kentucky saved approximately $85 million over a 1-year period because of significant declines in domestic abuse and violence. The savings included "relevant costs," such as service use, legal system use, lost opportunities, and quality-of-life loss. CPO's effectiveness can be improved by enforcing consequences when violations occur, developing more effective interventions at all levels to counter stalking, and addressing barriers to service access and enforcement. Researchers interviewed 213 women with protective orders in 1 urban (n=77) and 4 rural jurisdictions (n=93). In order to learn about the barriers to getting a CPO, researchers interviewed 188 key participants, including judges, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and court clerks. 1 table and 2 notes