Dependency and Severity of Abuse: Impact on Women's Persistence in Utilizing the Court System as Protection Against Domestic Violence

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Taylor & Francis


This study utilizes data collected from the legal files of a Battered Women's Services Agency in Northern California to identify some factors that inhibit a female client's persistence in obtaining a three-year restraining order. The impact of dependence (familial and economic) on the abuser and of severity of abuse are examined. Choice of these factors are guided by the feminist theory of gendered violence and the theories of cycles of violence and learned helplessness. Results of path analyses suggest that the more dependent the client was on the abuser, the less time she spent pursuing the restraining order. Similarly, the more severe the abuse experienced by the client, the less likely she was to persist in obtaining a restraining order. This research highlights some of the salient factors that may need to be considered if intervention services are to be more effective in helping and offering protection to battered women.