Limitations of the Protection from Abuse Order Process: Judicial Inattention to Psychological Abuse

Arndt, Lindsay
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University of Delaware
Intimate partner abuse (IPA) affects nearly one in four women in the United States within their lifetimes (Luken, Rosky, & Watkins, 2014). In most cases of IPA, women are typically the victims and men are the abusers. Civil protection orders are an effective way to protect women from experiencing future abuse; however, fewer than 80 percent of women in the United States who are victims of abuse by an intimate partner are issued a civil protection order each year (Holt, Kernic, Wolf & Rivara, 2003). Physical abuse is the most widely publicized form of intimate partner abuse. Despite this, most woman report that the psychological and emotional abuse that they experience is more damaging and long lasting that their physical injuries (Follingstad, Rutledge, Berg, Hause & Polek, 1990). Unfortunately, this type of abuse, even though it almost always works in tandem with physical abuse, is often overlooked by judges in court (Stark, 2008). The purpose of this research is to draw attention to psychological abuse and the need for judges to identify tactics of power and control as well as to utilize risk assessments. Two case studies observed in the Delaware civil court system are used to exemplify judicial inattention to psychological abuse and demonstrate the utility of a more comprehensive examination of judicial response to intimate partner abuse.
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES , Research Subject Categories::LAW/JURISPRUDENCE , Criminal Justice