Research Brief – Domestic Violence Survivors’ Experiences

Research Brief – Domestic Violence Survivors’ Experiences

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Domestic Violence Survivors’ Experiences with Memphis and Shelby County Resources


INTRODUCTION – While law enforcement is often the first contact a survivor has with the criminal justice system, this part of the system tends to generate the most significant obstacles, particularly for survivors of domestic violence. Although the concept of domestic violence has been operationalized in different ways, the current project uses the blanket term “domestic violence” to refer to victimization by a spouse or romantic partner. Survivors of crimes like domestic violence often face a variety of cultural, social and systemic barriers when they attempt to report their victimization, interact with police and try to access survivor services (McCart, Smith & Sawyer, 2010). Research indicates that these survivors frequently describe their experiences with the police negatively and often feel they are not taken seriously by police and prosecutors, especially if they have multiple encounters with law enforcement (Stephens & Sinden, 2000). As a result, engaging in the criminal justice system may not provide a source of relief for these especially vulnerable victims, but function as a source of “secondary victimization” by criminal justice practitioners that can compound their suffering (Kunst, Popelier, & Varekamp, 2015).

It is perhaps not surprising, then, that if victims do not feel satisfied with their treatment by and experiences with the criminal justice system, it is unlikely that they will report any subsequent experiences of victimization (Bennett, Goodman & Dutton, 1999; Coker, Park, Goldstein, Neal & Halstead, 2015). At least one-third of all domestic violence cases …. [use the link below to continue reading this media release]

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