Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Applied Sociology

Committee Director

Dianne C. Carmody

Committee Member

Doris Edmunds

Committee Member

Randy Gainey

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.S62 C655 2009


This study examines the relationship between the level of violence suffered by the victim in a domestic violence relationship and the criminal justice responses to that violence, namely arrest, prosecution and the issuance of protective orders. Data was obtained from a nonprofit domestic violence agency in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The data was collected by agency staff from victims seeking assistance. This study found that female victims of domestic violence that suffered higher levels of violence at the hands of their abuser were more likely to be issued a protective order. Female victims who suffered higher levels of violence were not however, more likely to experience the police arrest of the perpetrator, the police requesting an emergency protective order on their behalf, or the prosecutor filing charges. These findings imply the criminal justice responses currently in place are not being utilized to assist those victims that arguably need most help; those experiencing the most severe levels of violence.


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