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Longer-Term Influence of Civil Legal Services on Battered Women

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2016
115 pages
This 2-year panel study examined how "battered" women's receipt of civil legal services from the Iowa Legal Aid (ILA) impacted the women's safety, psychological well-being, and economic self-sufficiency.
Overall, the study concluded that civil legal services apparently had a positive association with women's safety, psychological well-being, and economic self-sufficiency over time. Approximately two-thirds of the 150 women in the study received assistance from ILA in obtaining a civil protection order (CPO). The rest of the women received assistance with a family law problem. The women receiving these services experienced a decrease in physical violence and stalking from waves 1 to 3 of the 5-wave study. Each wave consisted of a 6-month period. Women's symptomatic responses to traumatic stressors and depressive symptoms also decreased from wave 1 to wave 3. Women's adequacy of family resources and monthly income increased, and the difficulty of living on their current income and number of assistance resources used decreased over the 18 months from wave 1 to wave 3. There was no relationship, however, between the type or amount of legal services received and changes in study outcomes. The women reported positive attorney-client relationships, and their sense of empowerment increased at each wave; the strength of the relationship between women's empowerment and the quality of the attorney-client relationship increased over time; however, the type of legal services received did not mediate this link. Empowerment scores at each wave were associated with increases in women's psychological well-being and economic self-sufficiency, but this was unrelated to women's reported re-victimization. 10 tables, 2 figures, and 127 references

Date Published: March 1, 2016