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Exploratory Research into the Intersection of Forced Marriage, Intimate Partner Violence, and Sexual Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2017
41 pages
This exploratory study broadened the literature on forced marriage by examining forced marriage in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, as well as the adequacy of service-provider and criminal and civil justice system stakeholder responses to forced marriage.
Based on 7,791 valid responses to an Urban Institute survey administered through Google Consumer Survey, the study estimated a sample prevalence rate of forced marriage in the United States at 11.2 percent. The study conducted analyses of interviews with 24 people who experienced forced marriage or knew someone who has, along with 15 service providers and other stakeholders. The analysis then explored both the intersection between forced marriage and violence/abuse, as well as services received and needed by those who had experienced forced marriage. When asked to describe what happened leading up to the marriage, interviewees cited a number of various pressures, threats, and coercive behaviors exhibited by family members, the community, and others to try and force them to comply. In many cultures, there is an expectation that a person, particularly a woman, will marry by a certain age. When approaching that age, they experienced pressure from the family and also the cultural community. Some of the pressure tactics are described. Regarding the characteristics of forced marriage experiences, attention is given to intimate partner violence and sexual violence. Some of the interviewees described warning signs of abuse before the forced marriage, and those who did not recall any warning signs prior to the marriage reported threats and abuses after they were married, including emotional, psychological, and physical abuse, sexual violence, and forced labor. Study recommendations pertain to raising awareness of the tactics and abuses of forced marriage, the need for counseling services, and training of service providers to address this issue. Tables, references, and appended questionnaire

Date Published: September 1, 2017