Police involvement in domestic violence: The interactive effects of victim injury, offender's history of violence, and race

R. Bachman, A. L. Coker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


While there is a proliferation of research devoted to ascertaining the efficacy of arrest and other formal sanctions in deterring domestic violence, little research has focused on factors related to the pivotal point at which this formal sanctioning process begins, namely, in a victim's decision to report her victimization to police. This paper is an attempt to rectify this omission by examining those factors most important in predicting the police- reporting behavior of 1535 female victims of intimate-perpetrated violence (e.g., by husbands and boyfriends) taken from the National Crime Victimization Survey during 1987-1992. In addition to predicting the reporting decision of these victims, models predicting various police responses to a victim's report were also examined, including police response times, police actions at the scene, and the probability of an arrest being made. A combination of contextual and demographic characteristics affected the probability that incidents would be placed into the realm of formal sanctioning. Black victims, victims who sustained injury as the result of their victimization, and victims who reported that the offender had not victimized them before were more likely to report their victimizations to police. These same factors were also significant predictors of arrest. Police were more likely to make an arrest in incidents in which victims had sustained injuries, when the offender did not have a history of violence, and in incidents which involved Black offenders victimizing Black victims. Implications for the 'Battered Woman Syndrome' and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-106
Number of pages16
JournalViolence and Victims
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Health(social science)
  • Law


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