Domestic Violence Victims’ Experiences in the Legal System

Deborah Epstein and Lisa A. Goodman

in Stress, Trauma, and Wellbeing in the Legal System

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199829996
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199301492 | DOI:

Series: American Psychology-Law Society Series

Domestic Violence Victims’ Experiences in the Legal System

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  • Criminal and Forensic Psychology


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Despite positive changes in responses to intimate partner violence (IPV) over the past 30 years, many obstacles to victim safety remain. Because reforms tend to be based on an inflexible one-size-fits-all approach, the justice system fails to effectively support many individual battered women, and sometimes even has a detrimental impact on their emotional and physical wellbeing. Mandatory arrest laws, no-drop prosecution policies, and protection order statutes are designed to protect women but often ignore the needs of women (e.g., housing, finances, children). The relevant body of research is reviewed and analyzed in this chapter. The justice system needs to become more flexible and individualized to meet the diverse needs and priorities of a variety of women. Initial steps forward should include increased communication between victims and various system actors, an intensification of available advocacy services, and an eradication of the reflexive judicial bias in favor of partner separation.

Keywords: stress; trauma; wellbeing; courts; legal system; victims; domestic violence; intimate partner violence; innovations

Chapter.  7568 words. 

Subjects: Criminal and Forensic Psychology

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