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Exposure Reduction or Retaliation? The Effects of Domestic Violence Resources on Intimate-Partner Homicide

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Rates of homicide involving intimate partners have declined substantially over the past 25 years in the United States, while public awareness of and policy responses to domestic violence have grown. To what extent has the social response to domestic violence contributed to the decline in intimate-partner homicide? We evaluate the relationship between intimate-partner homicide and domestic violence prevention resources in 48 large cities between 1976 and 1996. Controlling for other influences, several types of prevention resources are linked to lower levels of intimate-partner homicide, which we interpret in terms of their capacity to effectively reduce victims' exposure to abusive or violent partners. Other resources, however, are related to higher levels of homicide, suggesting a retaliation effect when interventions stimulate increased aggression without adequately reducing exposure. In light of other research on deficiencies in accessing and implementing prevention resources, our results suggest that too little exposure reduction in severely violent relationships may be worse than none at all.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-03-01

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