Journal Article

Attrition Rates in Domestic Abuse: Time for a Change? An Application of Temporal Sequencing Theory

Katy Barrow-Grint

in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice

Volume 10, issue 3, pages 250-263
Published in print September 2016 | ISSN: 1752-4512
Published online February 2016 | e-ISSN: 1752-4520 | DOI:
Attrition Rates in Domestic Abuse: Time for a Change? An Application of Temporal Sequencing Theory

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Policing
  • Criminology
  • Forms of Crime


Show Summary Details


Victims of domestic abuse are more likely to retract their complaints approximately 5 days after a violent episode, before a court case is likely to be heard, and this attrition in the number of criminal cases often leads to a recurrence of the abuse. This article aims to use temporal sequencing to explain domestic violence attrition rates in the criminal justice system, thereby providing a framework to enhance understanding of complaint withdrawal. Temporal sequencing refers to a sequence of happenings in a space of time, and has been associated with organizational change previously, but has not been applied to domestic abuse before. Using theories that suggest time can be seen as either cyclical or linear, primary qualitative research was undertaken with victims of domestic violence who have retracted their complaints, to ascertain whether temporal sequencing had an effect on their decisions. It is argued that victims of domestic violence often see themselves as having a linear temporal narrative to the abuse they suffer—suggesting the abuse will cease, when in actual fact they are involved in a cyclical process—suggesting the abuse will recur. Since the evidence gathered for this research suggests that the decision to retract is taken almost immediately on reporting the offence, it may be better for Police and victim services to concentrate resources within this initial short timeframe to improve criminal justice outcomes and victim safety.

Journal Article.  7088 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Policing ; Criminology ; Forms of Crime

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.