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Center on Domestic Violence, School of Public Affairs

School of Public Affairs
 

Faculty research


Faculty affiliated with the Center on Domestic Violence are engaged in a number of projects that are furthering knowledge and awareness of the critical issues facing the domestic violence practice community. A few areas of research are included below. To learn more about these projects, please call the Center at 303-315-2489 or cdv@ucdenver.edu.

 

Role of enforcement in no-contact orders

As we know too well, protection orders can be violated.  But can some of this be prevented? As a general rule, protection orders are enforced only after victims notify the police that a violation has occurred. Some criminology and criminal justice experts have suggested that “intensive enforcement” of protection orders offers a positive, crucial step toward increasing both victim safety and offender accountability.

In 2008 faculty affiliated with the Center completed work on the National Institute of Justice funded study: “The Impact of Proactive Enforcement of No-Contact Orders on Victim Safety and Repeat Victimization.”  The final report was submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.  This report was also presented at two national conferences – the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conference and the Research and Evaluation conference hosted by the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.

The study sheds light on whether intensive enforcement by law enforcement improves victim safety and well being.  This study is being conducted by Dr. Angela R. Gover at the University of Colorado Denver, Dr. Catherine Kaukinen at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Dr. Robert Brame at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, and Dr. Pamela K. Lattimore at RTI International, Inc. 

The study focuses on domestic violence victims whose alleged batterers are free on bond with a no contact order (NCO) restriction while they await further judicial proceedings. A special domestic violence investigator assigned by the jurisdiction’s sheriff proactively checks in with a “treatment” group of victims to verify that they understand the NCO and to provide advice on mobilizing law enforcement and collecting evidence to help if the order is violated. Meanwhile, a control group of victims experiences the “status quo” response to NCO cases, that is, law-enforcement response only after a violation is reported.

The goals of the intensive follow-up by the investigator were to increase compliance with the NCO, reduce new offenses, and provide information to the victim that builds confidence in the criminal justice system and increases the victim’s sense of safety. The study looked at victim accounts of re-abuse, police and criminal justice responses to reports of physical and sexual assault victimization, and feelings of safety and well being. It also examines women’s perceptions of their own safety and the safety of their children, and measure symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress. 

As legal options for victims become more widely available, it is crucial that we measure the enforcement and effectiveness of these options. Armed with data on what works and what does not, we can work to improve victim safety and increase offender accountability

Police attitudes on domestic violence

The Center on Domestic Violence is committed to conducting research that fosters positive social and system changes in the field.  Toward this end, faculty affiliated with the Center has embarked on a pilot project that examines police officer attitudes regarding domestic violence. 

The project explores the experiences and opinions of police officers as a contribution to the ongoing policy debate about how to reduce and prevent domestic violence.  Law enforcement officers in the Front Range region of Colorado are being asked to complete a voluntary, self-report survey that includes opinion and attitudinal questions about the use of officer discretion in domestic violence calls, issues related to primary aggressor identification, domestic violence as a private versus public matter, and mandatory arrest policies.

The survey also contains items that concentrate on issues such as victim/survivor safety after leaving a relationship, truthfulness of victims’/survivors’ accounts of the incidents, and holding victims/ survivors responsible. 

One goal of this pilot project is to test the instrument and collect initial data for later use in a grant proposal to obtain funding for law enforcement training in the area of domestic violence. 

This project is headed by Drs. Mary Dodge and Angela Gover, both of whom are associate professors in the School of Public Affairs, and is modeled after an Arizona study conducted by Toon and Hart (2005).


Treatment/containment strategies for domestic violence offenders

In the state of Colorado domestic violence treatment is overseen by the Violence Offender Management Board (DVOMB).  For the past several years, much concern has been expressed to the DVOMB regarding the 36-week minimum batterer intervention treatment as being a “one size fits all” model that does not distinguish between higher and lower risk offenders.  Research has shown that placing lower risk offenders with higher risk offenders in the same treatment group is counter-productive to desired treatment outcomes.  In response to these concerns the DVOMB used the principles of “evidence-based practices” to identify the risk factors that are linked to recidivism for domestic violence offenders.  Based on this literature, the ‘Domestic Violence Risk and Needs Assessment’ (DVRNA) and differentiated treatment protocol were developed.  this project generated the report: “Utilizing Evidence Based Practices to Assess Risk and Implement Differentiated Treatment for Domestic Violence Offenders: Assessing DVRNA Implementation Issues.”  This report was presented to Colorado’s Domestic Violence Offender Management Board (DVOMB) and to the Treatment Review Committee of the DVOMB.  This project was directed by Dr. Angela Gover and the project was funded by Colorado’s Division of Criminal Justice, Department of Public Safety.

Other ongoing research projects 

  • An examination of the mental health consequences of intimate partner violence for women and children.  Results from this project will be submitted to an academic journal for publication consideration.
  • An examination of preparedness among Colorado nurse for identification and intervention with patients experiencing intimate partner violence. Results from this project will be submitted to an academic journal for publication consideration.
  • An examination of victimization among college students.  This project focuses on students’ experiences with violence and perceptions of campus safety.
  • An Examination of dating violence experiences among college students in Korea. 


 

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