The Use of the Justice System Prior to Intimate Partner Femicide

Judith Mcfarlane, Jacquelyn C. Campbell, Kathy Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This analysis of data from a 10-city control study of 821 women describes the frequency and types of justice services used during the 12 months prior to an attempted or completed femicide perpetrated by an intimate partner (EP). A total of 437 victims of attempted or completed femicide were identified from police and medical examiner records. Interviews with attempted femicide victims and with proxies for the victims of completed femicides were compared with data from abused control subjects (n = 384) who were identified via random digit dialing in the same 10 cities. Reported levels of violence and demographic characteristics of users and nonusers of justice services were compared. Twenty-two percent of the abused control subjects, 55 percent of the attempted femicide victims, and 48 percent of the proxy respondents for the completed femicide victims reported use of the justice system during the 12 months period to the attempted or completed femicide or, for the control subjects, prior to the worst abuse incident. The most frequent use of justice services among attempted or completed femicide victims was to report perpetrator or stalking. Among abused control subjects the most frequent use of justice services was to report IP assault to the police. African-American victims of attempted or completed femicide were the highest users of justice services, followed by white women and Hispanics. Women who made use of the justice system reported significantly higher levels of violence (p <.05). It would appear that more than half of abused women seek justice services prior to an attempted or completed femicide. Justice services thus provide a unique window of opportunity to connect abused women in serious danger with essential community resources that can potentially interrupt violence and prevent attempted or completed femicide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-208
Number of pages16
JournalCriminal Justice Review
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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