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Help me help her.
April 27, 2012 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Nutshell: I need a reputable, authoritative source of data about how many times the average victim of abuse/domestic violence/intimate partner violence returns to the relationship.

I am looking for a source for the statistic that abuse victims return to their abusers x times on average before the relationship terminates. I hear variations on this all the time and assumed it would be easy to find a reputable source, but I've spent a lot of time scouring the CDC and BJS and various similar websites without finding it. I just keep finding statistics on prevalence. Can you help?
posted by prefpara to Human Relations (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you're only looking for statistics*, I found this:

Griffing, S. et al. (2002) Domestic violence survivors' self-identified reasons for returning to abusive relationships. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 17(3) 306-319.

In this paper, they surveyed 90 women at a women's shelter and found that 66.7% of the women had left and returned their abusive relationship at least once. 88.3% of these women (the ones who said they had returned) said they had done this twice, while 33.5% had gone through the cycle 5 times.

They also say in the intro that roughly half of women who leave abusive relationships will return to their abusive partner at least once, although it's hard to obtain this data reliably and results vary between studies. Here are some references they provide for the "1/2 return" stat (I haven't checked these, though):

- Strube, M. J. (1988). The decision to leave an abusive relationship: Empirical and theoretical issues. Psychological Bulletin, 104(2), 236-250.
- Hilbert, J. C., & Hilbert, H. C. (1984). Battered women leaving shelter: Which way did they go? Journal of Applied Social Sciences, 8, 291-297.
- Schutte, N. S., Malouff, J. M.,&Doyle, J. S. (1988). The relationships between characteristics of the victim, persuasive techniques of the batterer, and returning to a battering relationship. Journal of Social Psychology, 128(5), 605-610.

*If you have access to this paper, I highly recommend that you read the whole thing. It also lists the REASONS for returning to these relationships. I'm not 100% sure what you're using these statistics for, but you may need more than numbers to help someone in this situation. (i.e. "Hey look, you're on return #5, so you should be getting close to leaving for good!") Other mefites will probably have some excellent recommendations on better resources to aid victims of domestic abuse. Good luck.
posted by Paper rabies at 9:05 AM on April 27, 2012


Thanks, Paper rabies, that is a very helpful cite that I will follow up on.

To clarify, I need this statistic to buttress an argument I want to make in court. I doubt that I will see, in my lifetime, an end to the persistent myth that "if it was really abuse, she would have left."
posted by prefpara at 9:27 AM on April 27, 2012


Thanks for the clarification, prefpara. It might be a bit tricky to find an "overall" stat since I bet these surveys are done in different methods with different samples, but hopefully that helps. Again, good luck!
posted by Paper rabies at 10:26 AM on April 27, 2012


A relative that worked as a victims' advocate through a certified organization was trained that on average, a victim leaves the relationship seven times. Unfortunately, that may vary depending on location, and as you said, study parameters. Looking for verifiecations, it appears most violence-related information online simplify that to just say the victim attempts to leave on average "several" times.
posted by Eicats at 11:12 AM on April 27, 2012


Does it need to be geographically specific?
posted by ramenopres at 7:36 PM on April 27, 2012


So I just read this, and the woman at the center (Jacquelyn Campbell) sounds as if she might have the kind of data you're looking for. I haven't looked for specifics, but I bet 5 minutes searching for her work would turn something up.
posted by Gorgik at 8:57 PM on April 27, 2012


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