“It’s All About Women When It Comes to the Courts”: Assessing Domestic Violence Batterer Attitudes Towards Protection Orders and Manipulations of Related Legal Processes as a Tactic Of Abuse

Samuels, Abigail
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University of Delaware
Leaving an abusive relationship does not always mean that the violence ends. Therefore, upon leaving an abusive relationship many victims of domestic violence apply for Protection Orders against their former partner and abuser to increase their level of safety. Protection Orders are civil court orders that can provide a domestic violence victim many forms of relief including restraining and no-contact orders against their abuser, temporary custody and visitation arrangements, and temporary child-support payments. However, for some victims, a protection order can operate as another means by which they are manipulated and abused. This type of abuse is known as “paper abuse” and occurs when an abuser uses the judicial system to manipulate and control his or her victim. Though an increasing amount of research acknowledges the existence of paper abuse, it is a relatively new concept in the field of domestic violence. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to understand paper abuse from the batterers’ perspective. 49 men in a court-ordered treatment program for domestic violence completed surveys. Surveys elicited information about these men’s behavior throughout the protection order process as well as their attitudes related to the process so as to better understand the occurrences of and choices related to paper abuse. Interviews were also conducted with five family court attorneys to learn more about the involvement of third parties in paper abuse activity as well as develop how to eliminate this manipulative behavior.