Protections Orders May Reduce Intimate Partner (Domestic) Violence

When domestic violence cases first come to court, most domestic violence courts (88 percent) issue a temporary  protection order or restraining order (unless one has already been issued). At sentencing, almost as many domestic violence courts impose a final protection order prohibiting or limiting contact with the victim. [1]

NIJ funded a study of protection orders, consequences for violating them, and costs in rural and urban jurisdictions in Kentucky. This study found that: [2]

  • Protection orders deter further violence and increase victim safety.
    • In 50 percent of the cases studied, victims experienced considerably less abuse and fear of abuse in the months after obtaining a protection order, even when the offender violated the terms of the order.
  • Protection orders save justice and social service systems money and improve victims' quality of life.
    • The Kentucky study measured a wide range of costs for each participant, including medical, mental health, criminal justice, legal, lost earnings, property losses and time lost for family and civic responsibilities. The study also produced a quality of life index six months before the protection order and six months after the protective order was issued. Overall, protection orders saved the state $85 million in a single year and improved victim safety at very little cost.
  • Rural and urban communities may differ in the processing and enforcement of protection orders, but victims in both the country and city benefit from protection orders. 
    • Rural victims encountered more barriers to obtaining protective orders, more negativity and blame from administering agencies, weaker enforcement of protection orders, and ultimately less relief from fear and abuse over time after obtaining a protection order.
    • Urban victims reported more difficulty navigating the justice system. Rural victims reported protection order violations less frequently.
    • Both rural and urban victims experienced similar reductions in abuse after obtaining a protection order, and overall a large majority felt that protection orders were effective.


[note 1] Labriola, M., S. Bradley, C.S. O’Sullivan, M. Rempel, S. Moore, A National Portrait of Domestic Violence Courts (pdf, 161 pages), Final report to the National Institute of Justice, 2010, NCJ 229659.

[ note 2] Logan, T.K., R. Walker, W. Hoyt, T. Faragher, The Kentucky Civil Protective Order Study: A Rural and Urban Multiple Perspective Study of Protective Order Violation Consequences, Responses, and Costs (pdf, 183 pages), Final report to the National Institute of Justice, 2009, NCJ 228350.

Date Modified: June 30, 2011