skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 200931 Find in a Library
Title: Barriers to Seeking Police Help for Intimate Partner Violence
Journal: Journal of Family Violence  Volume:18  Issue:2  Dated:April 2003  Pages:121-129
Author(s): Marsha E. Wolf; Uyen Ly; Margaret A. Hobart; Mary A. Kernic
Editor(s): Vincent B. Van Hasselt; Michel Hersen
Date Published: April 2003
Page Count: 9
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study attempted to identify intimate partner violence (IPV) victims’ perceived barriers to seeking help from the police through conducting focus group sessions.
Abstract: Even though hundreds of thousands of emergency calls for intimate partner violence (IPV) are made to police each year in the United States, many abused women do not contact the police. IPV victims’ police reporting behavior constitutes a major point for the initiation of the criminal justice response to IPV. Those factors involved in promoting IPV victims to avoid contacting police are not understood clearly. In this study, at the initiative of the Seattle Police Department’s Domestic Violence Unit (DVU), five focus group sessions were conducted by the investigators to identify the barriers for women to contacting police for help for IPV. The 5 focus group participants consisted of 41 women who obtained social services in Seattle from local community agencies. The perception that IPV is a personal and private matter was the most common reason women gave for not contacting the police in two previous national crime surveys. Women in this study felt that they must have physical proof of the abuse to warrant calling the police. Women expressed concern that police did not listen to them or trivialized their feelings and situation. Women found that the occurrence of spousal rape and its concomitant humiliation and embarrassment were a barrier to contacting police. Study findings have far reaching implications for police, as well as social services, and public education. There needs to be continued development and testing of interventions and policy changes. References
Main Term(s): Female victims
Index Term(s): Community relations; Dating Violence; Domestic assault; Police community relations; Police domestic violence training; Police training; Police-citizen interactions; Police-offender relations; Public Opinion of the Police; Victim services
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.