U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Use and Outcomes of Protection Orders by Battered Immigrant Women

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2006
261 pages
This study examined the decisionmaking factors, accessibility, and effectiveness of civil protection orders for immigrant women abused by their intimate partners in the United States.
Findings show that the sample of immigrant women (n=153) who sought services related to intimate partner violence (IPV) experienced a high level of violence. Most women reported being worried about their own or their children's safety. Before seeking help from the agency from which the women were recruited, 60.9 percent had no prior knowledge of protection orders. After receiving services from an advocacy agency, 68 percent of the women filed a protection order against their abusive partner. Most women who had filed for a protection order reported them to be "helpful" (22.7 percent) or "very helpful" (65.2 percent). A substantial proportion of the women (36.8 percent) indicated they believed the protection order would increase their danger. A significant proportion of participants reported experiencing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, a condition associated with exposure to traumatic events of experiences. Women in the sample reported high levels of exposure to violence in addition to IPV, with an average of three prior trauma exposures. The findings suggest that protection orders are effective in reducing those acts that would constitute violations of protection orders. These include not only violent and abusive behavior but also other types of violations. The 153 women came from predominately low-income households and were 21-46 years old. They were recruited from 14 partner organizations that offer advocacy services to battered immigrant women. The immigration status of most participants was undocumented (43.85 percent). The COSMOS Study Questionnaire was used in face-to-face structured interviews. The interviews assessed specific domains of demographic information, acculturation, intimate partner violence, protection order, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. 15 exhibits, 116 references, and appended study instruments

Date Published: October 1, 2006