Women in danger: intimate partner violence experienced by women who qualify and do not qualify for a protective order

Behav Sci Law. 2001;19(5-6):637-47. doi: 10.1002/bsl.462.


Not all women who apply qualify for a civil protective order. This study compares the type and severity of violence reported by women who qualified with that experienced by women who did not qualify. Ninety women seeking a protective order against a male intimate were interviewed. Findings indicated that 28% of women applying for a protective order did not qualify primarily because of cohabitation requirements or childbearing status. Actual and threatened violence was measured with the 46-item Severity of Violence Against Women Scale. A 17-item questionnaire measured stalking behavior. Levels of reported violence for the preceding 3 months were measured for the two groups. The symbolic threat behavior only of throwing, smashing, or breaking an object was significantly higher for qualifying women. The physical abuse behavior only of being pushed, shoved, or pulled was significantly higher. None of the stalking behaviors were significantly different. Data are urgently needed that document the barriers to abused women receiving protective orders, the relevancy of qualifying criteria, and the effectiveness of protective orders issued.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dangerous Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Control, Formal
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spouse Abuse / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Spouse Abuse / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States