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Correlates for legal help-seeking: contextual factors for battered women in shelter

Caroline Vaile Wright, Dawn M Johnson
Violence and Victims 2009, 24 (6): 771-85
20055214
Legal redress can play a critical role in interrupting the pattern of domination and control inherent in intimate partner violence (IPV), yet it remains an infrequent strategy among battered women. The current study employed a contextual framework for investigating the correlates for engagement in the criminal justice system for a sample of 227 sheltered battered women. Results indicated that individual, relational, and system-level factors were all associated with two legal help-seeking behaviors: having a civil protection order and criminal prosecution. In particular, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology, social support, and prior experience with police officers were significant correlates for legal help-seeking. Results highlight the need for a coordinated community response to IPV, addressing both legal needs and psychological needs simultaneously.

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