Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 1
Executive Summary Violence against women is a major social problem in the United States, as well as throughout the world. Each year in this country, 300,000 women are forcibly raped, more than 4 million suffer an aggravated or simple assault, and women account for one-fifth of all ho- micide victims. Moreover, while homicide rates declined during the l990s for both men and women, the decline in intimate-partner homicides oc- curred much later in the decade for women than it did for men and was greater for male than for female victims. In recognition of these continuing problems, in 2000 Congress asked the National Research Council to develop a detailed research agenda on violence against women. To address this mandate, the National Acad- emies appointed a steering committee of four distinguished scholars to develop a workshop that would review research on violence against women, focusing particularly, but not exclusively, on studies completed between 1995 and 2000. The workshop deliberations and the conclusions and recommendations subsequently developed by the steering commit- tee are detailed in this final report. RESEARCH FOCUS Because the majority of extant research on violence against women addresses intimate-partner violence, much of this report has a similar fo- cus. The committee notes, however, that two-thirds of homicides against women take place outside of this context, and that violence against women is perpetrated by strangers and acquaintances as well as by domestic part- 1
OCR for page 2
2 RESEARCH ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ners. Moreover, studies of the prevalence of intimate-partner violence show that women themselves commit these acts and not solely for defen- sive purposes, although at a rate and level of severity far lower than is the case for men. Most research on violence against women has been conducted in iso- lation from the larger body of work on violence in general (including re- search such as that on violence by men, on violence by adolescents, and on criminal careers). This intellectual separation of research on violence against women stems from the premise that distinctive features of the social and political context of violence against women, particularly the context of intimate relationships, sets it apart from other forms of vio- lence. The committee agrees that, as with medical research, a specialized focus on women's victimization and offending behavior is important to ensure that the distinctive correlates and contexts of these phenomena and their aftermath are addressed and receive appropriate funding and attention. However, we urge an end to the almost total separation that has characterized the field. Since there is still much to be learned about the etiology of violent behavior, the committee questions whether the general origins and be- havioral patterns of the various forms of violence are different enough to warrant the degree of separation that has occurred. In fact, recent evi- dence from longitudinal studies suggests the opposite. The committee believes that research can be focused on a specific issue such as violence against women, but still be firmly grounded in the larger literature on violence generally. At this point in its development, some level of inte- gration of research on violence against and by women with the larger literature on crime and violence would enrich the former research intel- lectually, increase the amount of attention it receives, extend the les- sons that can be learned about violence against women, and provide a sounder basis for prevention and deterrence strategies. In addition, find- ings from research on violence against women could in turn be used to inform research on other types of violence. The committee also finds that the research agenda of the federal government on violence against women would benefit from its integration with efforts to determine the causes, consequences, prevention, treatment, and deterrence of violence more broadly. Moreover, we believe that the government's research agenda should encompass forms of violent victimization of women other than intimate-partner violence. PREVALENCE Although existing national surveys have provided vital information on the nature and scope of the violent victimization of women over the
OCR for page 3
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3 past 10 years, the information on prevalence and incidence (rates of new cases) is inadequate. Current prevalence information has been derived from methodologically disparate survey data. Survey research has been instrumental in setting some parameters for the scope of two types of violence intimate-partner violence and sexual assault. Nevertheless, sur- vey research has been less successful in providing reliable estimates of the prevalence and incidence of such violence, as well as information about the context in which it occurs, its developmental patterns over time, and the ways in which women's victimization experiences may be linked to women's offending behaviors. Only a handful of current surveys that col- lect self-report victimization information from women are continuous; most have varied in the sampling frames and survey instruments used, and most were designed with other purposes in mind. If trends are to be estimated and the general effectiveness of inter- ventions assessed, prevalence data must be improved. The committee recommends a more coordinated research strategy to help remedy this problem. The committee also recommends that an effort be made to investigate how to link existing datasets and how to link information from these datasets with findings from clinical research. This effort should include creating a framework for developing standard defini- tions to overcome the lack of conceptual and operational clarity, compa- rable samples, and interview protocols. The steering committee believes that a program of research to assess what can be learned from extant data sources might provide important information on prevalence and on how best to proceed to develop more accurate datasets especially whether a new and continuous national sur- vey is needed. This assessment might also show whether linking existing data can provide more information on the risks of, responses to, and con- sequences of violence against women and the impacts of interventions. CAUSES OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN A growing body of empirical evidence reveals that perpetrators of violence against women commonly have histories of violence and con- duct problems outside of intimate relationships; the same is also true for women who perpetrate violent behavior. However, there is no longitudi- nal sample of the U.S. population currently examining causes of violence against or by women. The steering committee agrees with workshop presenters and attend- ees that information from longitudinal studies of U.S. populations is needed to examine the causes and consequences of violence against and by women. Studies that address risk factors for women should have fe- male respondents, but longitudinal population-based studies that include
OCR for page 4
4 RESEARCH ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN both men and women also are critical. The latter studies are essential for designing and evaluating the effects of primary prevention strategies and for determining causes, especially the extent to which childhood precur- sors of violent delinquency and adult crime are at the root of partner vio- lence or other forms of violence against women. The design of data collec- tion systems in such studies should follow from the research questions of interest and should advance general knowledge of violent behavior and its consequences. The committee recognizes that new funding would be needed for longitudinal studies on violence against women, and be- lieves that the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Justice should collaborate on the design and implementation of such studies. The committee recommends that work be initiated to examine the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of successfully conducting longi- tudinal studies on violence against and by women. EVENT-BASED STUDIES Recent studies on interpersonal violence among strangers illustrate the confluence of several contextual factors including motivation, per- ceptions of risk and opportunity, and social control attributes of the set- ting that shapes the decision to perpetrate a violent event, as well as its outcome. To understand the catalyst for a violent event among intimates, researchers must examine male-female relationships, perceived imbal- ances in power, control dynamics, identity threats, relationship problems, and communication patterns. Such event-based research would comple- ment studies of the individual propensities of offenders, focusing instead on the occurrence of violence by identifying the specific conditions that channel individual motivation and predispositions into violent actions, as well as the responses of the justice and health care systems and the com- munity. The committee therefore recommends more research address- ing the situational contexts and dynamic interactions that lead to vio- lence against women. Special attention should be given to research on the processes underlying victim selection, location selection, and vic- tim-offender interaction patterns. SOCIAL ECOLOGICAL STUDIES An emerging body of research provides evidence for community effects on violence and social problems in cases in which gender is an issue. Within the past several years, a number of studies have shown that rates of violence against women vary across such social areas as census tracts and neighborhoods, and that the geographic distribu- tion of violent victimization of women overlaps to a large degree with
OCR for page 5
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 5 that of male victimization. These findings are perhaps easier to un- derstand once we confront the fact that most violence against both men and women is perpetrated by men. Social and Spatial Epidemiology of Violence The committee believes that current prevalence estimates for acts of stranger-perpetrated violence such as robbery, assault, and rape may be conservative for the neighborhoods in which poor women of color live, and that this exposure to violence by strangers may contribute to factors that characterize violent offending by women. Even intimate-partner vio- lence appears to be susceptible to neighborhood effects. The committee recommends research to estimate the extent of variation in violence against women among census tracts or small neighborhoods, police pre- cincts or districts, or other theoretically meaningful social area aggrega- tions. Research should also be aimed at determining which features of area composition influence rates and types of violence against women. Understanding the social structural, social organizational, and social con- trol capacities of neighborhoods is critical to explaining differences in rates of violence against women. This research should compare data across gen- der in order to determine any differences between male victimization and violence against women. Distribution of Services Availability of services has been linked to variation in rates of inti- mate-partner homicides against women. The committee recommends that research examine whether access to local services can affect local- ized rates of intimate-partner violence, and consider implications for planning and locating preventive services. Research should examine, for example, the relationship between violence "hot spots" and service loca- tions to assess distances that pose barriers to the prevention or deterrence of intimate-partner violence. Research on the locations of other services, including counseling centers and medical services, should examine this relationship as well. Social Area Effects on Sanctions and Services Social ecological factors may affect not only rates of violence, but also the efficacy of legal sanctions and social interventions. The committee recommends that research examine the covariation of individual and social area factors with the responses of both victims and offenders to legal sanctions and social interventions directed at violence against
OCR for page 6
6 RESEARCH ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN women. Whether area effects are mediators or moderators of legal sanc- tions or social interventions is a question of theoretical and practical im- portance in the prevention of violence against women. Data Needs To create a data infrastructure that can incorporate social ecological factors, modifications will be needed in the sampling strategies used in survey research and epidemiological studies. Stratified sampling designs in survey and epidemiological research should include samples of so- cial areas as well as of individuals within areas. The selection of social areas, along with the types of data collected, should reflect theoretical questions. For example, studies of informal social control should include survey data from individuals within the salient areas who can report on social organization and dynamic processes of social control. PREVENTION AND TREATMENT The committee notes that the evaluation literature on the effects of prevention and treatment strategies is particularly weak. As a previous National Research Council committee found, the design of prevention and control strategies programs and services available to victims and offend- ers that aim to decrease the number of new cases of assault or abusive behavior, reduce the risk of death or disability from violence, and extend life after a violent event frequently is driven by ideology and stakeholder interests rather than by plausible theories and scientific evidence of causes. Many evaluations were initiated only after programs had been fully implemented in the field. The research on outcomes of treatment—pro- grams and services aimed at changing the behavior of violent offenders- has only begun to emerge, and is in general of poor quality. Evaluations are rarely experimental and thus are unable to rule out nontreatment ef- fects, or they rely on official records that underestimate rates of violence. In most cases, follow-up periods for measuring reoffending or other long- term outcomes are of insufficient length. Another problem is that treat- ment outcomes have not been uniformly identified, conceptualized, or operationalized. Instead of using post hoc evaluation designs, it may be more helpful to use standard research and development methods, that is, to design a program around established theory and then test its effects. Where ex- perimental designs are not possible or feasible, such as in evaluating mul- tidimensional, community-wide interventions, other methods, such as the use of propensity scores or econometric models, may yield valid and reliable results. Such rigorous evaluations are lacking for most preven-
OCR for page 7
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY lion and treatment approaches. This lack is due primarily to the low level of funding provided for program evaluation in this area; current funding levels make experimental or prospective designs in particular unsupport- able. The committee recommends that Congress provide adequate funds to support rigorous research designs and long-term evaluations of pre- vention and treatment programs in order to improve chances of effect- ing long-term reductions in the violent victimization of women. Because of inherent conflicts of interest (no program wants to be found ineffec- tive), funds for program evaluation must be independent from the control of program sponsors so that the ability to evaluate interventions will not be constrained by legislative or other requirements placed on programs or by political considerations. The steering committee recommends that, because of their individual histories in conducting research and dem- onstration work on these issues, the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Justice collaborate to develop an integrated program of rigorous evaluations of prevention, intervention, treatment, and control strategies. DETERRENCE Most of the research on deterrence the use of sanctions to prevent offenders from using violence has focused on specific deterrence aimed at those who have already offended, with the goal of reducing repeat intimate-partner violence. This research shows that legal sanctions do have deterrent effects, although modest in magnitude, but that these ef- fects vary by characteristics of perpetrators, their relationship with their partners, their stake in social conformity, and factors influencing the de- cision to impose sanctions. Recent research also indicates that certain le- gal reforms or changes in sanctions for intimate-partner violence, such as imposing more-certain or in some instances more-severe sanctions or re- ducing opportunities to assault women physically or sexually, increase general deterrence (defined as the impact of legal sanctions on the larger population, that is, those who have neither violated the law nor been punished). While research shows that the collective actions of the criminal justice system exert a substantial deterrent effect on crime, this fact is of limited value in formulating policy for specific crime problems. The committee recommends that future research on deterring violence against women be folded into broader efforts to study the decision making of potential perpetrators and the deterrence of criminal behavior generally. This is a particularly important point given the scope and cost of program efforts aimed at deterring and preventing violence against women. The commit-
OCR for page 8
8 RESEARCH ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN tee believes that research in the following areas is critical to improving the ability to deter violence against women. The Long-Term Effects of Sanctioning Policies. If the principal de- terrent effect of formal sanctions for violence against women (or other crimes) derives from fear of social stigma, the extent to which such penal- ties are actually meted out could either reinforce or erode such fear. The committee recommends that future research examine how social stigma for acts of violence against women is generated and either sustained or eroded; such research would inform the development of more effective policies and programs. Formation of Perceptions of the Risk of Sanctions. There is a large body of research analyzing the links between perceptions of the risk of sanctions and behavior. However, very little is known about how such perceptions are formed. The committee recommends that research be conducted on how perceptions of the risk of sanctions are generated and sustained over time for offenders who victimize women. Better studies are also needed of the effects of the crime rate on actual sanction levels and of how those effects in turn influence the formation of per- ceptions of the risk of punishment. Finally, it is important to explore Sherman's theory that initial deterrence (e.g., through arrest) can be made permanent by continually experimenting with novel police strat- egies, deployments, or enforcement priorities. How Responses to Crime Vary Across Time and Space. While some policies may be amenable to credible estimates of their average deterrent effects (e.g., the effects of arrest policies on intimate-partner violence), the capacity to translate those effects into predictions for specific places or populations is limited. The committee urges research on the extent to which levels of violence against women respond to policy in specific cities or states rather than research on the average response across all cities and states. Links Between Intended and Actual Policy. Finally, the link between intended and actual policy has not been well explored. The committee recommends that research examine how sanctions are generated and implemented so their effects on crime and on perceptions of the risk of sanctions can be better understood.
Representative terms from entire chapter: