The effects of procedural and distributive justice on intimate partner violence victims' mental health and likelihood of future help-seeking

Jenna Calton, Lauren Bennett Cattaneo
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 2014, 84 (4): 329-40
Using a longitudinal dataset of 142 victims of intimate partner violence seeking help from the criminal justice system, this study explored the relationship between victims' perceptions of procedural and distributive justice and their mental health and intention to use the system again. Controlling for reabuse and victims' mental health at baseline, victims who perceived higher levels of procedural justice experienced higher levels of quality of life, lower levels of depression, and higher levels of intention to use the court system again at 3 and 6 months after intake, regardless of case disposition. Subjective distributive justice moderated the relationship between procedural justice and quality of life and likelihood of future help-seeking at 6 months after intake, such that higher perceptions of procedural and subjective distributive justice predicted higher quality of life and likelihood of future help-seeking. Objective distributive justice (whether any consequences resulted from the criminal case and victims received what they requested in a civil protection order) did not relate to victims' mental health, intention to use the system again, or procedural and subjective distributive justice. Results suggest fair court processes may help victims by positively affecting their mental health and increasing their intention to use the justice system again.


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