Risk Factors in Arrest of Rural and Urban Female Victims of Intimate Partner Violence

By Lynch, Kellie Rose; Logan, T. K. | Violence and Victims, June 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Risk Factors in Arrest of Rural and Urban Female Victims of Intimate Partner Violence


Lynch, Kellie Rose, Logan, T. K., Violence and Victims


This study used a sample of women who obtained protective orders (N 5 709) from urban and rural communities and identified risk factors in arrest for victims of intimate partner violence 12 months after the protective order was obtained. Lower social support, higher loneliness, living in a rural community, substance abuse/dependency, a history of prior arrest, engaging in illegal behavior, and younger age were all identified as significant predictors of arrest at follow-up. The findings highlight the need for support and resources in vulnerable populations to reduce the risk of offending and recidivism. Implications for reentry programs and services for victimized women at risk are discussed.

Keywords: female offending; risk factors; intimate partner violence; victimization

In 2010, it was estimated that there were currently 1.3 million women under correctional authority and 830,000 women supervised by probation and parole in the United States (Glaze, 2010). Many scholars argue that men and women's pathways to crime and experiences with the criminal justice system are substantially different, and as a consequence, men and women should be studied independently when investigating patterns in criminal offending (e.g., Belknap, 2007; Bloom, Owen, & Covington, 2003; Van Voorhis, Wright, Salisbury, & Bauman, 2010). For example, Brennan, Breitenbach, Dieterich, Salisbury, and Van Voorhis (2012) highlighted victimization and social withdrawal as risk factors for a pathway to crime for some women. This is supported by research that has shown that women under correctional supervision are more likely than male offenders to have experienced physical and sexual abuse at some point in their lives (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2007). In fact, women involved in the criminal justice system are also more likely than women in the general population to experience these forms of abuse (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2007).

Previous research has focused on general predictors of criminal offending in women (e.g., Messer, Maughan, Quinton, & Taylor, 2004) and profiling specific pathways to criminal offending in women (e.g., Brennan et al., 2012). Specifically using the pathway approach, Daly (1992) identified partner violence victimization as associated with risk of criminal offending, and Brennan and colleagues (2012) identified victimization, social isolation, and depression as risk factors for criminal offending. However, there has been little research focused on examining specific risk factors of offending using a sample of partner violence victims. Furthermore, there has been limited research examining risk factors for offending in partner violence victims who live in rural areas compared to urban areas.

Rural areas traditionally have fewer community services available, and when there are services available, they are often ineffectively staffed and fewer community members can afford them (e.g., Booth, Ross, & Rost, 1999; DeLeon, Wakefield, & Hagglund, 2003; Zhang et al., 2008). Past research has revealed that victimized women in rural communities report less social support, more child abuse victimization, and worse overall general health and mental health than women in urban areas (Logan, Walker, Cole, Ratliff, & Leukefeld, 2003). This may be because of the fact that women in rural communities have fewer resources available to them, compared to urban areas, to help with substance abuse problems, mental health issues, unemployment, and victimization (e.g., Logan et al., 2003; Logan, Walker, Hoyt, & Faragher, 2009; Websdale, 1998; Zhang et al., 2008). Also, in many rural areas, there is a cultural norm of keeping personal problems within the family and stigma for help-seeking (Billings & Blee, 2000; Logan et al., 2009). Victimized women, and those with mental health or substance abuse issues in particular, living in rural communities may be in great need of social resources but (a) lack these resources and/or (b) may not feel they can turn to those outside their family for help. …

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