Research That Matters (January 17 - 20, 2008)


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Women's Risk for Revictimization by a New Abusive Partner: for What Should We Be Looking?

Lisa Shannon, PhD, University of Kentucky, Jennifer Cole, PhD, University of Kentucky, and Tk Logan, PhD, University of Kentucky.

Purpose: One of the most compelling findings in victimization research is that interpersonal victimization is not random; rather, once a woman has been physically or sexually victimized, she is at increased risk for subsequent victimization (Gidycz, Coble, Latham, & Layman, 1993; Gold, Sinclair, & Balge, 1999; Himelein, 1995; Mayall & Gold, 1995; Sappington, Pharr, Tunstall, & Rickert, 1997; Wyatt, Guthrie, & Notgrass, 1992). Yet, there is a gap in the literature. Few studies have focused on women's risk for abuse by a new partner after leaving an abusive partner. In retrospective studies, sizeable minorities of women with recent histories of partner violence have been found to have prior histories of partner violence, ranging from 34.7% to 41% (Bogat, Levendosky, Theran, von Eye, & Davidson, 2003; Kemp, Green, Hovanitz, & Rawlings, 1995; Krishnan, Hilbert, & Pase, 2001). The purpose of this study is to (1) examine the prevalence and description of women who have protective orders against one violent partner at baseline and who subsequently report abuse by a new partner at the 12-month follow up, and (2) examine risk and protective factors revictimization for women who are involved with a new abusive partner at the 12-month follow up.

Methods: Women were recruited out of four courts when they obtained a protective order against a male partner. Data was collected via face-to-face interviews at time 1, which was within about 5 weeks of obtaining a protective order against one violent partner (n = 662), and followed by a second interview for women approximately 12 months later. The follow up rate was 94%

Results: Of those women who reported having a partner other than the partner against whom they had the protective order at follow up, 35.2% reported any abuse by that new partner. Results of a logistic regression analysis indicate that cumulative lifetime victimization ( = .078, Wald = 7.671, p < .01), length of involvement with the new partner ( = .168, Wald = 49.649, p < .001), and meeting criteria for drug abuse/dependence ( = .721, Wald = 7.361, p < .01) were significantly positively associated with partner violence by a new partner. Specifically, women with more cumulative lifetime victimization experiences, more months of involvement with the partner, and drug abuse or dependence were significantly more likely to experience victimization by a new partner during the follow-up period.

Implications for research and practice: The time of separation from a violent partner is risky for women, not only because of the risk of continued violence by the partner, but also because ending the violence with one partner does not preclude revictimization by a future partner (Woffordt et al., 1994). Intervening with women around the time of obtaining a protective order, or when they are terminating a relationship with a violent partner, is a critical point of intervention to possibly reduce women's risk for future revictimization by a new partner.