NIJ Audio Transcript: Domestic Violence Research 15 Years After VAWA
Bernard Auchter, Acting Division Director, Violence and Victimization Research Division, Office of Research and Evaluation, National Institute of Justice, Washington D.C.
Claire M. Renzetti, Professor of Sociology, University of Dayton, Ohio
Connie Beck, Associate Professor, Psychology, Policy and Law Program, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson
Barbara J. Hart, Director of Law and Policy, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, Portland
Bernard Auchter: So this session is on domestic violence research 15 years after the Violence Against Women Act, and the panel will talk about the progress that's been made over the years as well as identifying what still needs to be done. And I also wanted to note that at least in a cataloguing sense, we have a violence against women compendium of research on our website. So if you're at the NIJ website and you just put in the key terms, “VAW compendium,” you'll quickly find it. And that compendium by various categories lists all the studies we've done over those 15 plus years with a brief paragraph on what the study is about, and if the study's been completed, it'll have a brief paragraph on the results. And then, of course, for full reports, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service is the place to go, ncjrs.org, and full reports of all the studies are archived there. And then if you're a researcher and interested in data, all the data is archived at the University of Michigan Data Archive.
So the panel … we will not go in the order that's in the program. First, Dr. Claire Renzetti, who is the new endowed chair at the Center for Research on Violence Against Women at the University of Kentucky, will open.
Claire has an extensive history of work in this area. She's … numerous books and articles, and she is currently working on issues relating to trafficking.
Then following Claire … or Claire's going to essentially review some of the progress we've made over the years but also identify some of the gaps and where we still need to go in terms of some of the research.
Following Claire, Dr. Connie Beck at the University of Arizona, in psychology, will speak about her project but also about one of the ongoing controversies that continues to exist in this area. Some people know it as gender symmetry. Others have said that we shouldn't use that term anymore, that there is no symmetry, suggesting that both men and women are perpetrators in equal amounts. Connie will give us her perspective on that, essentially why smart people disagree on this topic.
And following Connie will be Barbara Hart. Barbara has also worked in this field for many years, currently at the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. Barbara will give us her perspective from the field both as a lawyer and as an advocate and someone who's worked on these issues for decades. And Barbara more recently, I think, is known for her efforts at disseminating what we do know through her many audio conferences that are held, and many people in the field, perhaps some of you, have been a part of those conferences.
So let us open with Claire.
Claire M. Renzetti: Over the past 15 years, research on all forms of domestic violence has been, I think, nothing short of prolific. It seems that research in this area has grown exponentially, and, certainly, it's not an overstatement to say that violence against women is now a major field of social science research, and within it the study of intimate partner violence is a major subfield. The area clearly has matured to the point of having a critical body of literature as the foundation upon which researchers continue to build.
And a major contributor to this growth has been the funding provided by the Violence and Victimization Research Division of NIJ. Some of the most influential research on violence against women generally and on intimate partner violence specifically has been the result of NIJ funding, the funding … the projects that we're going to be talking about today and throughout the conference.
And so, to summarize all of it in just 20 minutes in terms of what it has taught us and what we still need to learn is not an easy task. Indeed, I would say it's an impossible one.
So what I'm going to do today is look at VVRD's Compendium of Research on Violence Against Women that Bernie mentioned and give you my take on some of the strengths and gaps in our knowledge about domestic violence in light of the research that's been funded by NIJ since 1995 — actually since 1993, since that's when the compendium begins. And the compendium was just updated in April. So it does provide a pretty accurate accounting of the work that's been done and is still in progress through NIJ funding.
The compendium is really a wonderful resource, and if you're not familiar with it, I really do encourage you to have a look. It's available online, as Bernie said. The top URL is the compendium URL that will take you right to it, and you can download the entire compendium PDF file.
It summarizes 260 NIJ research-funded projects for the period 1993 to 2010, with a total dollar investment of more than $79 million. And as Bernie said, you'll find, you know, a lot of information about each individual project. It'll tell you the title of the project. It'll also tell you who the PI is, and it'll tell you how much money the project was funded for, if it's still ongoing or if it was completed. It gives you a little summary, a little abstract of the project, and then if there's a final report, it gives you an abstract of the final report.
And then that second URL is the National Criminal Justice [Reference] Service website, and you can go there and get the actual final report and download the whole final report. You can search it by the NCJ number or by subject or author or title. It's really easy to use, and it's truly a wonderful resource for researchers and practitioners and advocates.
The compendium itself is organized into nine categories of research on violence against women, and these are all the different categories: justice and related systems and definition and measurement. You can read them. I don't have to read them to you.
I've been asked to focus on the projects that address intimate partner violence, but I have interpreted that really broadly, and so I include under that heading projects that have examined sexual assault as a form of IPV, including post-separation sexual assault, projects on children who have witnessed IPV and projects in which IPV is examined in the context of custody evaluations, visitation, and situations like that; projects on stalking; elder abuse projects if the description specifically mentioned IPV or domestic violence; and projects on teen dating violence. And by my reckoning, that's 108 of the 260 funded projects between 1993 and 2010.
Now, one of the most interesting things for me in reviewing the compendium was charting the change in the research focus over the years. I did a similar presentation at the NIJ conference in 2006, and at that time, I reported that the single largest category of research projects was Category A, the justice and related systems category. And at that time, it accounted for about a third of all the funded projects in the compendium and nearly 30 percent of the total funds awarded, which was about $17.9 million.
This category remains the single largest category of funded projects. In fact, it's grown some and now represents 45.5 percent of funded projects in the current compendium and 32.5 percent of total funds, $25.7 million in funding. But what was striking to me was that there had been some really important shifts, I think, in the emphasis within this broad category and also some significant growth in other major categories.
So, for example, the justice and related systems category is divided into nine subcategories. And four years ago, I reported that the largest of these was arrest and prosecution, with the majority of the studies looking at efforts to criminalize domestic violence, specifically whether increasing arrest of offenders, giving police more domestic violence training, prosecuting more cases in the courts and imposing harsher penalties on those convicted have a deterrent effect on re-offending and thereby increase women's safety and their satisfaction with the criminal justice system.
And what I did then was I reviewed those projects that had been funded on those topics and looked at what their findings were, and overall the consensus from these studies was that arrest and prosecution have weak or inconsistent deterrent effects and do not necessarily improve victim safety or victim satisfaction with the criminal justice system.
And looking at those studies, what I found was that there were basically two major factors identified in the research that were associated with these outcomes, and the first factor was lack of victim cooperation. And that was a finding that was also supported by studies in the advocacy division of Category A projects, and then the second factor was differential resources and time commitment among prosecutors. There were studies of specialized courts and of attempts by prosecutors to substantially increase the number of domestic violence cases they prosecute, and what these studies showed was more negative than positive results, including — and I think this is really important — it significantly increased the time to disposition and reduced the amount of time prosecutors could meet with victims. So, clearly, the two factors are interrelated.
The victims feel that their concerns and their preferences and their safety are ignored by the criminal justice system, and if they feel that way, they're not likely to cooperate with that system.
As Eleanor Lyon wrote in 2002, in her report summing up the findings of her evaluation of a special session domestic violence court, and I quote, “Being heard is imperative to women who have experienced domestic abuse, which strongly influences their reaction to legal system interventions,” end of quote.
And in looking at these findings in 2006, I argued that there appeared to be then a disconnect between IPV victims and the criminal justice system, and, therefore, one of the significant gaps I found at that time in our knowledge base was evaluation of strategies and innovative programs to mend or narrow this disconnect. Now, I'm sure that my pointing this out in 2006 was what led to the funding of some of the projects I found summarized in this year's updated compendium.
Isn't that true, Bernie? You all listened to me when I spoke.
Specifically, I found this time in the arrest and prosecution subcategory a very important change. What I found was much greater attention to victims' needs and concerns; that is, I looked at the research and I found that the research was now foregrounding victims' needs and concerns rather than making it secondary. And what they had done previously was make the process primary. I thought it was really interesting during the luncheon speech to be talking about the lack of research on prosecutors and things like that because this research really focused a lot on prosecutors and foregrounded prosecutors and their actions, and victims and victims' safety and victims' concerns took a backseat. And now what I was seeing in this year's most updated compendium is much more attention to victims' needs and concerns.
So I cited a couple of examples that I thought really indicate this, and one is a study by Karin Rhodes and Catherine Cerulli that's looking at how victim participation in IPV prosecution affects victim safety. And, importantly, the PIs are not only analyzing quantitative data, they're doing what Eleanor Lyon said we should be doing. They're letting victims be heard.
They're conducting a series of focus groups to, and I quote, “explore in depth the mechanisms by which victims' experiences, empowerment, safety and experiences within the justice process influence their decisions to participate in prosecution.”
And among the goals of the project are to use the data to inform the development of interventions that can help empower female IPV victims to make efficient and effective use of the criminal justice system in ways that maximize their health and safety and to inform policy and practice in the implementation of victim advocacy within the criminal justice system.
So they're looking at the system and they're looking at prosecution and they're looking at arrest and the criminal justice system itself, but they're foregrounding victim safety and they're foregrounding victims' needs, and they're letting victims tell what their concerns are and what their experiences are.
Another example that I saw was Andy Klein's three studies. What Andy is doing is he's looking at the practical implications of current domestic violence research, and it's in three parts. One part is the practical implications for law enforcement, one is for prosecutors and one's for judges. And, again, even though he's looking at the system and the process, what he's doing for each set is emphasizing or prioritizing victims' protection and safety, and he's talking about how … he's looking at how these processes can affect that and either improve it or deter from it.
So, while the arrest and prosecution section of Category A projects is still the largest — it's 31.4 percent of the projects in that category and $5.2 million in funding — I saw a significant increase in attention to victims' needs and concerns in these projects, and I think that's really, really good news.
This observation was further supported by the growth in projects in another section of Category A: victim services. There are now 12 projects listed in this section, with the greatest increase occurring after 1999. Some of these studies are studies of sexual assault services, but also funded are … I give three examples here: a study of how to reduce barriers to help-seeking by older abused women, a domestic violence shelter study and a study of custody evaluations in cases where there are allegations of domestic violence. And this particular study was very interesting, and it shows that often court-appointed custody evaluators have little, if any, evidence-based knowledge of intimate partner violence and, therefore, may put women and children at risk of further abuse through their recommendations to the courts, so, again, looking at the system but foregrounding victim safety concerns and protection.
We see the emphasis on victim safety and concerns in other categories, too. For example, in Category B, which is definition and measurement, in the section on development of risk assessment instruments, a study funded in 2008 is an experimental evaluation of a police department's use of lethality assessments, again, to improve protection of victims. And in the section on context, meaning and motive, there is another study funded in 2007 of, again, custody evaluators' beliefs about domestic violence allegations.
Now, I'm kind of one of those people who really loves these, looking at research studies, and I would love to spend more time discussing particular studies in the compendium, but I know my time is limited. And out of the corner of my eye, I keep seeing Bernie moving. I knew it was coming. I keep waiting for the little card, and I know my co-presenters have important things to say.
So let me turn our attention to just two other major categories that I want to highlight.
First is Category D, which is social and cultural context, and that now contains 58 projects accounting for about $17.6 million, which is more than a fifth of the total funding from NIJ since 1993.
Nearly half of the studies in this category are in the division on specific populations, which includes studies of culturally, economically and socially diverse groups of women. And, again, one of the things that I thought was really exciting is that I recognize that we've gotten so much smarter about knowing, realizing that you can't generalize from a sample of a specific group of women to all women and say that their experiences are going to be the same, and so it was really heartening to see so much more attention focused to diverse populations.
This category also includes 15 projects on context and life course, one of which, funded in 2007, uses a randomized longitudinal design as well as geospatial analyses to test, and I quote, “the prediction that early coordinated victim outreach will improve criminal justice outcomes by increasing victim participation in official action and increase victim safety and empowerment,” end of quote.
This is the study that I'm talking about, and I'm highlighting this particular study for three reasons. First of all, it uses what many consider to be the gold standard of research designs, a randomized longitudinal design. So it's possible in this field to do that.
And the second thing that really struck me about it was that it's using geospatial analyses to assess how factors such as distance to and time and effort required to access services affect victims' help-seeking and participation in the criminal justice process. These are things that we probably think are very obvious, but we don't really ever measure them, and they're using geospatial analyses to do it, which I think is very cool.
And the third reason I'm highlighting it and perhaps the most important reason to me is that it evaluates a coordinated community response, and in 2006, I identified the CCR model as one of the most promising for improving victim safety and well being and for improving deterrents. So I'm really looking forward to the findings of this particular study.
OK. The other category that I want to highlight is Category I, which is teen dating violence, because although there are only seven studies in this category, six of them were funded after 2005, two in '08 and four in '09. And most of these projects focus on prevention, and they also study diverse populations.
So, for instance, there's a study funded in '08 on dating abuse prevention among teens whose mothers have domestic violence protection orders. There's a randomized control study on preventing re-victimization and the teen dating relationships of girls in foster care — that's the DePrince study — and then a study of dating violence among Latino adolescents.
And, if any of you have read
Violence Against Women, the journal that I edit, you know that I have long been an advocate for more research on effective prevention and intervention strategies with adolescents, even younger children. I think we're waiting too long if we wait for adolescents. So it's especially heartening to me to see the growth in funding in this type of research.
OK. I've gotten two messages now, so I will wrap up.
Let me turn to one final although critically important question. This is one of my favorite cartoons, and you probably all can't see it, but the question is, are we making an impact? And, undeniably, I think the research conducted on violence against women over the past 15 years has resulted in substantial usable knowledge, and I was really pleased to hear the lunch speaker talk about the need for usable knowledge.
I think it's nothing short of astounding, the amount of research that's been produced in such a short period of time, and as the editor of
Violence Against Women for the past 16 and a half years, I've had the honor and the privilege to publish a good bit of this research, including several special issues of articles from clusters of NIJ-funded projects — for example, one on custody and visitation issues when there is IPV, another that Bernie guest-edited on battery intervention programs. And I would argue that this research, more so than in many other areas of scientific and scholarship knowledge production, is useful not only to the academic community — that is, the community of scholars — but also to the practice and advocacy communities, and therein I think lies a hallmark, a major strength of this work.
There remains obvious challenges, just a few of which I've touched on here and some of which I know Connie and Barbara are going to discuss in their presentations and that'll come in the question and answer period.
But let me conclude by adding one other. There are, I think, clearly still tensions among the research practice and advocacy communities that inhibit real collaboration and, therefore, real progress. We often end up, unfortunately, talking to members only of our own group whom we think really understand us, and I think we have to continue to be committed to overcoming our professional differences and being open to alternative ways of examining a problem, of being willing to concede that our way is not necessarily the right way and that we don't know everything about the issues at hand.
I think NIJ has helped tremendously in fostering collaborations among researchers, practitioners and advocates by including representatives from each of these groups on its panel reviews and by encouraging such collaborations in its CFPs. In fact, Tami Sullivan and Bonnie Fisher are conducting focus groups and individual interviews at this conference to collect data for their NIJ-funded study of successful researcher-practitioner partnerships that strengthen practice and policy.
So, clearly, the opportunities for partnerships are there. All that's needed really is our willingness to be genuinely collaborative. Thank you.
Connie Beck: OK. Thank you.
First of all, I would like to say it's an honor to be serving on this panel with such renowned IPV researchers. I'm relatively new to this area, so it's an honor to be here, and I thank you. These women have laid the groundwork for research for younger scholars, not in age, of course, but in years in the field, and I thank them.
I'm going to move in a little bit different direction. I'm going to talk about a particular issue that has been very at the fore in this particular area, and that is the symmetry/asymmetry argument.
There's many smart people who have debated this issue. I know you can't read everything on this slide, but I put it up here to just indicate that five different journals have produced special issues on this particular topic with over 30 different scholars who have written on this topic, and that's not including the number of different scholars who have written independent pieces. It seems to be a huge issue that we keep coming back to.
As I talk about this issue, I'd like you to think about three things and keep this in mind, and that is, what exactly is being studied, what instruments are being used to measure it, and who is being studied.
What we do know is that there are different types of domestic violence that we need — or intimate partner violence that we need to be aware of: psychological, physical, injury, sexual, stalking, coercive control. These are different types of violence that we've identified over the years, and we need to keep them in mind when we're reading a study, what is it that is being researched.
And another important factor is are they combining different kinds of categories. For instance, some of the research combines both mild and very severe physical violence and aggression and calls it “aggression.” So we need to be aware that that is what's being done in the research.
Instruments that are being used … we certainly know about act-based measures. The Conflict Tactic Scale is probably the most famous. There are also in-depth interviews, case studies, different ways of gathering information in this particular field.
Who is being studied is very, very important. Probably one of the favorites of academics at least are college students, because we have lots of them and they're all in one spot. We can give them questionnaires, and we can get information back.
Now, there's certainly an argument that can be made about whether that is the most important or just a piece of what's important to understand about intimate partner violence.
The debates … although most of us don't fall neatly into either of these categories, it's the categories that have been identified in the literature, and that is the family conflict or violence researchers and the feminist researchers.
We also have these categories, too, that are in use, and it's unfortunate because we use these labels to attack one another as opposed to, in my view, trying to understand the differences in the way we conduct research and the important findings that we find.
So, in the first two camps, as often what they're called, family conflict or family violence researchers fall into these categories, and they argue that women are as aggressive or violent or more so. So we can ask what is it that they're looking at in order to come up with these conclusions. Often what they're looking at is physical aggression, and they're looking at lower levels of physical aggression: slapping, biting, hitting, kicking — maybe not even kicking but slapping, biting, scratching, these kinds of things. At times, they include severe violence within that category, which is a problem because then it washes out some of the findings with the severe violence because it's a less frequent behavior that gets carried out. Most of these studies do not include sexual violence; they do not include stalking; they do not include coercive control, which are gendered in terms of perpetration.
Instruments being used, almost exclusively, are the Conflict Tactic Scale, and often the older version of the Conflict Tactic Scale, so not the newer version.
Samples of subjects that are used: Again, academics' favorites are college students, so a lot of these studies are done with very young college students' dating samples, high school samples, and it has severe implications for the kinds of findings that they find. It's slanted towards younger people, lower levels of physical violence that tend to be more symmetric, if you want to call it that, or have more parity; again, lower levels of physical in young people.
The next set of research … feminist researchers often fall within these camps, and what they're asking is to take a step back and look at the broader context of the relationship. Specific acts are not enough in terms of understanding what intimate partner violence really is. The definitions that are used tend to be broader. They tend to look at psychological abuse, coercive control, sexual abuse, stalking; take the gamut of research as opposed to just physical aggression.
They also tend to use in-depth interviews or national crime surveys, hospital records from the ER departments, shelter service records. So, again, they use different methods.
Again, the subjects are different. They tend to be women in shelters or agencies, court samples, ER visits by women and national crime surveys. These samples tend to look more at the married group or people who have been in longer-term relations, often with children. So, again, this data is more slanted towards the more severe violence.
What I'd like to represent today: that both of these camps are looking at very important populations. They just don't tend to be the same populations. So we need to be careful about what we're talking about when we look at research and make sure that we really, truly understand these three things about the research before we can draw conclusions about it.
So a smart person may ask, well, if we understand these things, why are we still arguing and why are we still arguing decade after decade after decade. These are some of the things that I believe happened in terms of keeping the arguments going. We failed to clearly define what we're studying. We lump categories together and call them a “new thing” instead of keeping the categories separate. We omit certain categories altogether. If we'd take out those gendered categories of violence, coercive control, sexual abuse, stalking, separation, assault, we're going to find very different things than if we keep those in.
We fail to also report the limitations of our samples. We fail to say we are studying college students, unmarried college students that are dating, and then making sweeping generalizations about all women or all men. We need to be focused about what we're really saying and what we're finding.
We cherry-pick data. We report only what we want and what fits into our frame, and then we make over generalizations.
I think the next one is the most distressing for me: where we just attack each other as opposed to truly trying to understand one another. We boycott each other's conferences. We boycott research and journals. As I think Claire talked about, what happens when you do this to a researcher, they get more and more isolated. They speak only to true believers, and so they never have critics actually talking to them in a reasonable tone where they can hear them.
I think we also … one of the strengths of intimate partner violence research is the fact that it is carried out by so many different disciplines. We have sociologists, lawyers, criminologists, psychologists, social workers. That should be an incredible strength of this research, but what we find is that we stay true to our discipline. For instance, sociologists like to look at cultural influences for certain kinds of phenomenon. Feminist scholars often look to gender as a way of explaining how things come about. Psychologists, of which I'm one, we like to look at individual differences and assessment in treatment. Lawyers like to look at the differences in how laws affect phenomenon. Unfortunately, we're not very respectful of what each other find, but I think that's a true detriment to this field and has kept us in a holding pattern in some ways, standing in our camps and attacking. We really must reach beyond our own discipline to understand a discipline and, as Claire and others talk about, work with courts, with different disciplines, with police, to really gain a true understanding of what we're talking about.
There have been some recent changes or recent movement to try to get out of these camps and look at things in a broader perspective. We need to understand there is no gold standard for measuring intimate partner violence. When we use act-based measures versus long-term interviews, we're getting different kinds of information, and we need to truly understand that.
There's no perfect dataset. There's no way that one dataset can answer all the questions. So we need to have qualitative data with small samples that give you very rich information. We need large-scale data from large populations of people beyond college students and high school students — crime survey data.
Important typologies have been developed, both of perpetrators and couples, that have given us a much richer understanding of what's going on within a couple or within particular kinds of batterer. Amy Holtzworth-Munroe has developed perpetrator batterer typologies that have given us a wide-ranging understanding of what's happening with different kinds of perpetrator. Michael Johnson, Evan Stark have also given us understanding of what couples actually look like, and I'll talk a bit about that when I talk about my data.
There are some types of intimate partner violence that are sex linked. We need to understand that. There are some that aren't, but there are some that are. Types of intimate partner abuse and violence that are not psychological abuse and low-level physical — scratching, biting — tend not to be. That tends to reach parity.
I think that we need to consider some broader consequences of intimate partner violence, social and economical kinds of consequences. Also, women biologically have a lot more vulnerability to sexual violence. They can become pregnant. Their internal organs can be damaged to the point where they won't have children. STDs, HIV are much more common. So we need to look beyond just a physical abuse or a broken arm. We need to look at some of these broader consequences.
We also need to really understand alcohol and drugs. They have such a profound effect, both in perpetration, victimization, as well as when these incidents occur. Often both the victim and the perpetrator or one of them are under the influence. We need to spend a little more time on that.
There are potential unintended consequences. I think when we broaden the definition of intimate partner violence to include things like psychological abuse, you will often increase the number of women that are identified as perpetrators. I'm not sure that that was what was intended. We really wanted to get respect for other kinds of violence other than broken bones and bruises, but I think there's been some unintended consequences.
I also think that mandatory arrest has been a wonderful thing on some levels. It forces police to do something when they come into this situation, but it's also increased the number of dual arrests. Now we're having victims and perpetrators both arrests.
There's no single estimate of sex differences. When people say “women are” or “men are,” I hope that you will think about it. I think we need to take a more nuanced view in terms of what women, under what circumstances, or what point in time, and the same is true for men.
We also need a lot more narrative and rich, deep understanding of intimate partner violence in couples, beyond the battering or intimate terrorism. We've done some pretty good work understanding what that looks like for those couples, but I think situational couple violence, other types of violence between couples, it would be to our benefit to really spend some time doing the hard work.
Where possible, I think it would be really helpful if we can assess both types — both partners and all types of violence. This isn't always possible. It's very dangerous to try to interview perpetrators when you're working with victims. So I say this very cautiously, and I can talk about my research and how I've been able to do it in a very structured way.
I think the typologies are really helpful, but we also don't always neatly fit in typologies. So we need not try to poke people into typologies but also let the data explain to us what is available out there, what things are coming to us.
So I'd like to switch gears now for just a moment and talk a little bit about some National Institute of Justice-funded research that I'm conducting, a longitudinal study of couples in intimate partner violence, and they're in mediation.
These are the description of the subject and my collaborators, hot off the press because I haven't actually published this yet. OK. So what I'm looking at is what does intimate partner violence look like in couples in divorce mediation, not what mom does or what dad does that are not related to one or the other, but what do the couples look like.
So what I'm going to show you is a table. It's very complex. You have a copy of it, but I'm going to try to explain it in a way that it makes sense. So, on this screen, the stuff in blue are what boys do, the stuff in pink are what girls do, just as a way to try to help work through the data.
Something that's really important to understand is I began with categories of violence. So I didn't begin with items. So I had the categories that I'd been mentioning, and we will go over them. I then did a latent class analysis. So the researchers out there, this is a factor analysis at the couple level. So what I did was put couples into the program and have the data tell me what the combinations look like — when dad is doing something, what is mom doing — and have different classes come out.
I used a common mean. So I put all of the subjects together, men and women, came up with a common mean. So the data that I'm going to show you are means and standard deviations. The mean is zero. So if you see minus numbers, that's less than the mean. If you see positive numbers, that's greater than the mean. An argument could be made that men and women perpetrate at different levels, so that was unrealistic to use a common mean, but I wanted to be comparing apples and apples. I did not want to be comparing apples and oranges looking at men and women differently.
OK. So the types and categories that I looked at with the measure I used, it was an act-based measure, except for coercive control, where questions we're asking: “demanded I obey,” “controlled how much money I could and how I spent it,” “controlled my coming and going.” We had 10 items on that particular scale. You can see the alpha reliability was good in most all of these. We also had threats in escalated and sexual violence.
So, on the far left, you'll see the types of violence, and then in the next set of … the next row, you'll see what wives are reporting and what husbands are reporting. OK?
So the first category to fall out is mutually low. These people are below the mean on everything, and if you look at the bottom of the scale, you'll see that that represents 37 percent of my 918 couples that I was able to classify, and that's 348 couples. So at least these couples in divorce mediation that cannot agree about custody and visitation, we have at least 35, 37 percent who are reporting mutually low everything.
The next category, I put a small “cc” for “coercive control” because I'm not quite sure how to label this. You've got wives reporting that they are being coercively controlled, psychologically abused. There's some of that really high-level violence — breaking bones, sending to the hospital, threatening with a gun — and then we also have sexual violence.
This is a category that Evan Stark talks about in terms of if you've got coercive controlling violence, you don't need a lot of physical violence. If you break a bone once in a while and you rape them once in a while and you control them, you don't need a lot of physical violence. I don't know if this is what's going on, but I really think we need to look at this category, particularly since it's 35 percent of the population. We've got 323 couples that fall into this.
The next one is more of a traditional battering category. If you look, if you just look at the number of categories of blue, you have father … mothers reporting that fathers are well above the mean and, in fact, two standard deviations, over two standard deviations above the mean on that high-level escalated violence and certainly close to two standard deviations the mean on sexual. So this is a very, very violent group.
Now, if you look at the pink, you've got some response by mom or you have moms responding with violence as well. Now, I want to be really careful when I talk about this because you hear of bidirectional violence being the most common or you have mutual violence. Well, I would like to present to you that this could be called mutual violence, but it's definitely not mutual, OK, based on the levels that are being reported.
Next one, we have female, mostly female perpetration. Again, you've got some categories of men, but most of them are women. There are lower levels, and there are fewer categories. Which is the category that's missing that women do not do? Sexual, of course. So, again, we have a category that if we do not include in the studies, it's very gendered, and it biases the research.
Our last category that only represents 4 percent of the population, 32 couples, and this is just “mutually violent control,” if you want to use Michael Johnson's terminology. It's only 32 couples, whereas the mostly male, mostly female, 115 couples, 100 couples.
So this is what the data told me. I didn't force these couples into these categories, but this is what the data told me.
So some conclusions: Asymmetries in partner violence, intimate partner violence occur, but the mostly male is at much higher levels and more types than mostly female, and we read over and over that bidirectional violence or situational couple violence is the one that's the most common. This did not happen in this particular study. That's not what we found in this particular study.
The limits of the research — I want to be very clear about the population that I was studying. It's a divorcing population who are contesting custody and visitation. These assessments happened in divorce mediation. It was at one jurisdiction and one point in time. It was an act-based measure, but at least we had 10 items addressing coercive control, which I think is very, very important. It's an archival study of existing records. So there were no assessments of consequences, meaning of violence and social health outcomes.
But it does address one longstanding issue in mediation, and that's power differential. I think we're borrowing a concept, coercive control, from the intimate partner violence research, and it's a short screening measure that captures these important power dynamics.
Future research: I think, you know, one of the huge issues is what happens to these children. Right now I'm attempting to locate funding to collect data from CPS and juvenile court on what happens to these particular families. Juvenile court and CPS have a rich data source in terms of what … the ongoing family dynamics.
It also shows us a connection between family court and juvenile court. Right now, we have a multi-court collaboration going on at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Families often get caught between these two court systems. Women are told in juvenile court, “You must protect your child.” She goes to get a divorce and goes to family court and is told, “You must have your child see the other parent.” So she's told completely different things from two different court systems.
I think another thing I will look at is if couples with intimate partner violence are accurately identified by mediators. And then what is done, once it's identified? Do they change procedures to help accommodate victims? And which couples return to court? Which couples return to mediation? What are the reasons and how is it resolved? And which couples call the police and sheriff? We begin taking these classes. I have about 15 years of police and sheriff data on these couples, and we've begun looking at the classes and who calls the police and who are arrested.
And thank you.
Barbara J. Hart: It was a privilege for me today to hear the Honorable Laurence Tribe. You know, somehow lawyers just resonate to his messages about access to justice. It was just a great privilege, and I want to reinforce a few things that he said because they fit with what I want to talk about.
The first was that knowledge should have practical application. I went to the Ben Franklin Institute almost monthly, was a member when I lived near Philadelphia because of the incredible knowledge, practical knowledge that that institute provided for my children. So Ben Franklin talked about that all of our inquiries should have a practical application, and I commend that to you, both in terms of practice and public policy. I think that the closer we get to offering guidance to both, the more valuable your research will be because we will actually be talking about it and using it in more familiar ways, I think.
The other thing that he talked about was soft knowledge. Soft knowledge is very useful, and in this field, you'll see how we have built on soft knowledge. And we must — we who are practitioners and policymakers — must learn to better appreciate the empirically derived knowledge. So both of those are knowledge, so I appreciated his addressing that.
And the third was that — and I'm not quite sure what he was talking about — the person-focused versus the problem-focused research. I look forward to having further discourse with him about that because I think that much of what practitioners are interested in may be a combination of both of those.
So, anyway, let's start. I want to start with the oldest researchers in the field, just so that you can have some familiarity with them. So the check mark means that they weren't … these were newspaper reporters, these two women at the top, and back in the '70s wrote battered wives and first started talking about institutional misogyny, a very important construct as we shaped both public policy and practice in the future. And then Straus, Gelles and Finkelhor did the Conflict Tactics Scale, which has shaped discourse and debate for the last 30 years, 40 years, very important work.
Lenore Walker was incredibly helpful in focusing responsibility for intimate partner violence on the abuser, rather than talking about the masochistic psychologically impaired woman who invited the violence in her life. So it was incredible contributions to shift the view towards the perpetrator and then to talk about battered woman syndrome. And the asterisk when it appears on these slides for me talked about researchers who engaged in close collaboration with practitioners in doing their research. So Lenore was very attentive to the input of both policymakers and practitioners in doing her work, as were the Dobashes — as are the Dobashes and … but I also suggest to you that their work on patriarchal roots and gendered violence certainly has informed the discourse in the last 30 years, as have Stark and Flitcraft's work on injury prevalence.
And then this last person, you don't even know unless you're from New York and a certain part of New York, because she's a judge. At that time, she was a legal services attorney, and she first identified separation violence. It wasn't you all researchers. It really was practitioners. She was in legal services and noticed that the women who came in to get … for divorces that were on these long, horrendous waiting lists that will hopefully be reduced if Laurence Tribe has his way, they will actually get to see a legal services attorney in their divorce. She noticed that something like 50 percent of the women who came in to get divorces had been battered, and it helped shape protection orders.
I mean, Marjorie was the one who gave us the idea that protection orders independent of and attached to divorce would be very critical. So that was the very first decade of — and these are Barbara Hart's view of who did the research that was … created the foundational construct.
So this is the second decade; you can see it was very rich. I want to start with the top, Susan Schechter, our dear, beloved and passed on friend who really … she wrote in 1982 or she wrote on little three-by-five cards a book that is still the seminal, if you will, book on the shaping of the battered women's movement. It's an incredible history. In that book, she also charged us to listen and learn from battered women and activists and to spend some more time. So that's the “listen and learn” that Eleanor Lyon was talking about, listen to what battered women want. Susan was talking about this way early, and she also asked us to begin to look at class and race because we were not — we practitioners and policymakers were not doing that well then.
We still aren't doing it well now, and that research … I must give a little plug to the
Violence Against Women journal because it is one of the few journals where the issue of race and class and ethnicity and immigration and LBD … LBGTQI … I don't … they just don't trip off the tongue. What can I say? Those things are explored, and they aren't explored in other … if you don't have … subscribed, you might want to. It's the most, I think, practitioner policy-friendly journal. So you might want to consider it, anyway, if you have extra money in your budget. The Violence Against Women Act funds will pay for it.
We go down here. They're just … I want to go down to Ellen which is down … Ellen Pence, which is down sort of in the last one-third. So this is the person that among any of the researchers on any of these lists has clearly focused on practical application. You know, Michael is here, too. So Michael has been her partner in this wonderful journey for the last 40 — almost 35 years, and Ellen was … is so clear about the importance of taking the information that's there and applying it to answers to questions.
Right now they're doing evaluations of custody. They're looking at custody evaluator products in order to figure out what's good and what's not so good about those products and to inform practice about that. So Ellen has always done that.
The other thing that's important to know is that you can have some fun doing some collaboration with practitioners. Michael will be able to remember this better because it was more of a traumatic experience for him, but when we were creating power and control, when we were thinking about power and control, we were at Ellen's house, where we had no plumbing in the middle of winter, and a whole bunch of us sat around and we talked about “So, why do men batter?” And I think that sort of the … it was the genesis of this, and it was a shift in thinking, frankly, for Michael and Ellen to power and control from where they were before. And the stories about this are really quite amusing, but I won't embarrass Michael or myself with those stories, except to say that, you know, these collaborations that we are commending to you, I am commending to you, can be fun as well as onerous, and I think many of you in this room may feel that they're onerous, whether you are practitioners or researchers. They can be quite entertaining actually and then give you lots of stories for later.
I'm going to move to the next. These are all important constructs, and the reason that they are listed here is because I think they shaped both research and practice for years to come, and they still are shaping much of the thinking that we're doing on all of these issues.
Richard Berk's, the criminal justice system resistance to response, all of these … then David Ford's work on victim agency and engagement in criminal prosecution and the utility of criminal prosecution if victims were engaged and were interested in pursuing criminal prosecution. So all of these people began the thinking on all of these subjects, and then we have derived much of our thinking from them both in agreeing and disagreeing with them on a bunch of things.
I'm going to look at this list, and I'm going to pick out only one. There's so many. There's so many people that I would like to talk to you about, but I don't have time to do that. I'm going to go to Ed's work on two things on this slide, but there was one on the slide before as well.
This is the measuring batter intervention effectiveness slide where he began to look at the context, not the program itself but the context of the program, the context in which the program was embedded, the criminal legal system. And you heard earlier about sure and swift consequences. I mean, one of the things that came out of Ed's work was that unless you have a system that embeds the batterer program in it and, in fact, does deliver sure and swift consequences, predictable sure — is sure, isn't it? OK.
Anyway, Ed was the first to help us understand the importance of the context in which this kind of intervention program is embedded, and he also was very responsive to a couple of practitioners who informed his work. He was very much a … he is very much of a collaborator. He really needed to measure the success of batterers programs in terms of the outcomes for battered women, and so that unless you could demonstrate that there was well being for battered women on the far end of batterer participation not just in VIPs but also in the criminal legal system, then you might want to question the utility of that intervention. OK. So that's a decade. Whew.
Next decade. Now we're in the 2000s. Some of that was violence against women research. A lot of that on the prior page was violence against women research, as was much of this, and so we have some new measures that have come out in this last year that I'm particularly interested in: Marianne Dutton's course of control measure, Adrienne Adams.
OK. One of the things I didn't tell you about Ed Gondolf is his early research in the '80s was on shelter study, and it concluded that … one of the findings was that if victims don't have access to economic resources, like child care, transportation, housing, et cetera, they're likely to return to the batterer. It was the greatest predictor of reconciliation with batterers was whether women had access to economic resources.
And Adrienne Adams now has created a scale of economic abuse, which helps us build the argument for economic resources as an essential intervention or contribution in terms of services and advocacy to battered women, and that without that kind of economic resource, battered women would find it very difficult to establish independent and safe lives that are stable and secure with their children.
Jim Ptacek is now asking us to look at restorative justice. This has been a no, no, no, no, no. This has been heretical. I mean, many things are heretical, but this has been heretical, too. And so he has begun to ask us to look at restorative justice as it might be utilized in the domestic violence field. I've been in many debates about this. This is really an exciting, I think, direction to pursue. And his work on probation efficacy is renowned and among the other things that Claire talked about earlier.
I think the JODI research, the Judicial Oversight Demonstration Initiative that was funded by OVW and the research that was funded by NIJ helped us understand the critical importance of judicial leadership in a legal process. We have had reluctant judicial participation in this work for many, many years, and in the last 10 years, we've begun to see them to step to the plate, and this research helps us understand how important that is.
And then Pat has done the earliest work that I read on stalking, and that was her study of the divert process in Colorado Springs and the failure of police officers to understand, to recognize stalking when it was in their face. They just didn't understand it unless it was a violation of the protection order. I mean, it had to be that obvious. We have many police officers who are still not recognizing stalking when they see it, and we are working on that.
He hasn't even … see, he didn't know I was going to get to this slide, and he didn't read it before either. So this is … I do want to … this is not my end slide, but I thought I'd tuck it in here before he would tell me my time was up.
Hart: I want to just express my great appreciation, as I know yours, for NIJ and particularly for Bernie and Angela, who have shepherded this work so faithfully and so carefully and I think with impeccable care to the critical issues that need to be answered. So thank you for your excellence in all of this. Thank you for including practitioners in the discourse, in the selection, in the review, et cetera. I think this has really been a rich dialogue, and I'm hoping that we will continue in this fashion as we add the access to justice. I am so excited about that, the access to justice research that's coming down the pike.
Now, so there are challenges to this dialogue and collaboration. There are infrequent venues for us to talk, and if we do come to these venues, then we have all these people up here that do the talking instead of you. We have different — as Connie talked about it — different understandings in language. That “DV” is my “IPV.” You know, what can I say? I am an attorney, and I'm of the field. So I don't do IPV very well. I almost had as much trouble with that as the LGBTQI. OK.
We don't have very many practitioner-friendly publications. We don't understand what you write. As a consequence, we do factoids. Richard is right. We do factoids better — we practitioners and policymakers do terrible factoids, and it's because we really don't grasp what you're telling us because you write it in your own journals and you talk to yourselves. OK.
We have many formal educational differences that make it very difficult, and you can read the rest of this. I think that we don't even talk about participatory action research. So, since this is being recorded, I want to say the words again: Participatory action research in which we engage the participants as well as the practitioners in design through dissemination is really important.
OK. Now I'm almost there, Bernie, actually. So here's some opportunities. You can get the
Violence Against Women journal. You can come listen to my audio conferences, or you can even volunteer your research for my audio conferences and webinars. The MINCAVA website has much of this up there, as well as, you know, the obvious is to look at the NIJ and the NCJRS stuff, but these are additional pieces.
There's an interesting research collection that I bet you don't know about if you're a researcher and maybe not if you're a practitioner, and that's the National Domestic Violence Resource Center has solicited writings from various researchers on various topics in which they do a full analysis of what's out there.
So you need to publish in our venues. You need to consider doing RSS feeds to us practitioners about your products. You've got to go to the blogosphere, and I don't, but you can. And I went there last night to try to figure out how to spell the word, and it could be either an “o” or an “a” in the middle, just so you know both are correct.
OK. So here's what I think needs to happen in the future, just a few things that aren't done yet. We have a lot. Prevention is up at the top because it fit this slide. Not necessarily in any order of priority is my listing here, but I think it's really important for us to look at all the many questions that remain unanswered and to engage in those.
So I think that's the end. It's been a privilege to throw these many ideas at you. I look forward to your questions.