Criminal Protection Orders: Implications of Requested Versus Issued Orders on Domestic Violence Revictimiztion and Mental Health Among Women

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Criminal protection orders (POs), with varying degrees of restrictions on offenders’ behavior, are issued by the criminal justice (CJ) system to enhance the safety and well-being of victims of domestic violence (DV). Yet, little research exists to elucidate outcomes associated with their issuance, and no research has examined outcomes of POs that are issued with greater restrictions than what victims requested. Among 187 women who were victims in a criminal DV case with a male intimate partner and who voiced their preference about a PO in the court system, this study examined if women’s DV revictimization by their partner and mental health (i.e., posttraumatic stress disorder and depression symptom severity, perceived stress, and fear) are differentially impacted by whether criminal POs issued by the court were more restrictive than what was requested by victims. Results showed that regardless of whether the level of criminal PO issued was more restrictive or not, victims reported significant decreases in victimization and improvement in mental health over time. However, there was greater benefit regarding victimization and mental health outcomes in the degree of change over time for victims with POs that were not more restrictive than those whose POs were more restrictive. Findings are discussed in the context of Therapeutic Jurisprudence and survivor-defined practice, which underscore the importance of victims’ input and requests in criminal PO proceedings.

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Journal of Interpersonal Violence