Intimate partner violence and the criminal legal system

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University of Delaware
The paper examines the role of the criminal-legal system in relationships in which the participant experience intimate partner violence. The criminal-legal system has greatly expanded since the 1980s and disproportionately affects the Black community and other marginalized groups. This study analyzes the life histories of intimate partner violence (IPV) victims and offenders and their interaction with the criminal-legal system by using semi-structured interviews with 18 participants. ☐ Analysis of the interviews was conducted utilizing a Black feminist criminology framework to understand the interlocking nature of race, gender, and class and its effects on public policy effectiveness. My analysis uncovered three emerging themes among the research participants: IPV is one problem among many, victims were arrested when they sought help, and some women use the criminal-legal system to escape. This study found a relationship between criminal-legal system impact and multiple IPV relationships. Combined with the themes uncovered in this analysis, this research supports policy interventions that advocate for alternative methods to policing in intimate partner violence relationships, promote robust social safety nets, and provide expanded support to domestic violence programs that offer drug and alcohol addiction services, housing and job assistance, and mental health support.
Intimate partner violence, Criminal-legal system, Black community, Black feminist criminology, Mental health support