Background: Approximately 20% of U.S. women who experience intimate partner violence (IPV) annually obtain a civil protection order (CPO). The effect of these orders on future abuse has been estimated in only a few studies, with mixed results. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of a CPO on the risk of future self-reported IPV and injury.
Methods: In this prospective cohort study of 448 adult female Seattle WA residents with IPV between October 1997 and December 1998, interviews were conducted at baseline, 5 months, and 9 months after the index incident. Odds ratios (ORs) estimated risks of contact; unwelcome calls or visits; threats; weapon threats; psychological, sexual, or physical abuse or injury; and abuse-related medical care among women who obtained a CPO after the index incident, compared with those who did not.
Results: Women who obtained a CPO following the index IPV incident had significantly decreased risk of contact by the abuser (OR=0.4); weapon threats (OR=0.03); injury (OR=0.3); and abuse-related medical care (OR=0.2) between the first and second follow-up interviews. Stronger decreases in risk were seen among women who had maintained the CPO throughout follow-up, which were significant for contact by the abuser (OR=0.2); weapon threats (OR=0.02); psychological abuse (OR=0.4); sexual abuse (OR=0.2); physical abuse (OR=0.3); injury (OR=0.1); and abuse-related medical care (OR=0.1) between first and second follow-up interviews.
Conclusions: CPOs are associated with decreased likelihood of subsequent physical and nonphysical IPV.