Understanding Police Response to Domestic Violence


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Domestic violence affects one-third of women nationwide at some point in their lives. However, 46 percent of domestic violence incidents where women are the victim go unreported. Among the most commonly disclosed reasons women choose not to report domestic violence to the police are fear of police hostility or indifference (American Civil Liberties Union, 2015). This study aimed to determine whether or not ambivalent sexism, the mix of both benevolent and hostile sexism, is a possible explanation for negative attitudes and behaviors shown by officers when responding to domestic violence with female victims. It was hypothesized that higher scores on the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory would predict more negative attitudes about domestic violence among officers. Ambivalent sexism scores and attitudes towards domestic violence were collected from 87 officers and analyzed in order to establish a correlation between the two inventories. The data did support the hypothesis, although officers in this study scored lower on domestic violence attitudes and ambivalent sexism than anticipated. Data analyses indicated that there was a significant relationship between scores on the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory and domestic violence attitudes. Trends in the data suggest that increased years on the force may affect participants' scores, representing positive change in police response to domestic violence over time.