Do Protective Orders Really Protect Battered Women?
Is safety an option for you? If you have been terrorized by domestic violence or stalking, you may wonder if there will ever be a time that you can live without looking over your shoulder. Do you have to go into hiding, or are there legal procedures that can protect you? The fact is, there are measures that you can take with the courts. But how effective are they? A compilation of studies indicate that while about four in ten women who seek protective orders through the courts are re-victimized by their abusers, women who don’t seek protective orders experience re-victimization at nearly double that rate. What factors are significant in predicting re-offense?
The Factors to Consider
Studies indicate that there are particular variables linked to violation of protective orders; they include victim characteristics, abuser characteristics, time, the nature of the relationship, and the legal system. Statistically, how do each of these factors impact the efficacy of protective orders?
Characteristics of Victims
The correlation between victim characteristics and continued abuse highlights specific high-risk individuals:
- White and Hispanic women experience revictimization at half the rate of Black women;
- When women and their abusers share biological children, they are four times more likely to experience re-abuse than women who are childless;
- Non-drug users experience less re-abuse than drug-users do;
- Women from lower socio-economic groups are far more likely to experience additional abuse.
Characteristics of Abusers
Abusers who stalk their victims tend to continue to do so after a protective order two-thirds of the time. Other red flags that may indicate continued abuse include;
- Men are generally younger when they continue to abuse;
- They may have mental health issues;
- Perpetrators who engage in substance abuse;
- Perpetrators who do not hold full-time jobs;
- Abusers who have a history of other violent criminal activity;
- They argue against any implementation of a protective order in court.
Things Often Improve with Time
Generally speaking, when a temporary protective order is initially issued women might see four times the amount of psychological abuse that they previously experienced. To be sure, most protective order violations occur within the first three months of issuance. Thankfully, they can anticipate a decline in such abuse to the tune of 60 percent if they obtain permanent protective orders. Importantly, permanent orders result in a 70 percent decrease in physical violence.
Abuser and Victim Relationships
Relationships of a shorter duration—those less than a year—are at greatest risk of continued abuse following the issuance of a protective order. Unfortunately, when abuse does reoccur, it is often more violent than previous episodes.
The Legal System
When abusers are arrested and jailed on the spot when an incident occurs, they are less likely to re-offend after a protective order is issued, particularly for women of lower economic status. A victim’s perception of the police as protectors and enforcers at the time of a violent incident corresponds with a lower probability of ensuing violence.
You Deserve to be Safe
At the Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes, our Baltimore protective order attorneys are committed to doing whatever they can to keep you safe. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, contact our office for a confidential consultation today.