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Tragedies of Domestic Violence: A Qualitative Analysis of Civil Restraining Orders in Massachusetts

NCJ Number
S Adams; A Powell
Date Published
24 pages
This qualitative study analyzed 1,000 civil restraining orders issued by the Massachusetts Trial Court during 1 week in September 1994 in order to examine characteristics and dynamics of domestic abuse.
The results show that nearly half of restraining orders involve people who have been involved in a dating relationship, while another 34 percent involve spouses and ex-spouses. Fifty-six percent of restraining orders mention a child belonging to the victim, defendant, or both. In 65 percent of restraining order affidavits, the victim reports a history of abuse, including physical abuse, threats, verbal abuse, and property damage, culminating in the current incident. More than one-third of restraining orders are closed within 2 weeks of their issuance; 17 percent of defendants named in a restraining order are arraigned for violation of the order within 1 year. Thirty-two percent of defendants who had an alcohol and drug abuse problem violated their restraining orders, the highest violation rate. 1 figure, 6 tables, and 2 appendixes