Context: Approximately 1.5 million US women experience intimate partner violence annually. Approximately 20% of these women obtain civil protection orders, but the effectiveness of such orders in preventing future violence is unclear.
Objective: To assess associations between obtaining a protection order and risk of subsequent police-reported intimate partner violence.
Design, setting, and subjects: Retrospective cohort study of 2691 adult female residents of Seattle, Wash, with an incident of male intimate partner violence reported to the Seattle Police Department between August 1, 1998, and December 31, 1999.
Main outcome measure: Relative risk (RR) of police-reported physical and psychological abuse in the 12 months following the index incident according to protection order status (temporary protection order, usually in effect for 2 weeks; permanent protection order, usually in effect for 12 months; or no protection order).
Results: Overall rates of police-reported physical and psychological abuse in the 12 months of follow-up were 13.5 per 100 person-years and 12.3 per 100 person-years, respectively. After controlling for cohabitation at time of index incident and index incident offense type, women with temporary protection orders in effect were more likely than women without protection orders to be psychologically abused (RR in the first 6 months after the index incident, 4.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.2-7.2; RR in the entire 12 months after the index incident, 4.9; 95% CI, 2.8-8.6), while women with permanent protection orders in effect were less likely than those without orders to be physically abused (RR in the first 6 months, 0.4; 95% CI, 0.1-1.1; RR in the entire 12 months, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.1-0.8).
Conclusions: Permanent, but not temporary, protection orders are associated with a significant decrease in risk of police-reported violence against women by their male intimate partners.