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Violence Vict. 2010;25(3):332-48.

Civil protective order effectiveness: justice or just a piece of paper?

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Department of Behavioral Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40504, USA.


Many victims, victim advocates, and even law enforcement believe that protective orders are "just a piece of paper," suggesting that they do not work or are not effective. This study examined protective order effectiveness by following 210 women for 6 months after obtaining a protective order. There are four main themes that were identified from the study results. First, protective orders were not violated for half of the women in the sample during the 6-month follow-up period. Second, even among those who experienced violations, there were significant reductions in abuse and violence. Third, overall, women were less fearful of future harm from the PO partner at the 6-month follow-up, and a vast majority felt the protective order was fairly or extremely effective. Fourth, stalking emerges as a significant risk factor for protective order violations, sustained fear, and lower perceived effectiveness of the protective order. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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