The Effectiveness of Protection Orders in Reducing Recidivism in Domestic Violence: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Cordier, R., Chung, G., Wilkes-Gillan, S., & Speyer, R. (2021).
Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 22(4), 804 – 828.
Type of Profession:
Expanded Abstract: 

Preventing and reducing domestic violence is a national and international social priority. Civil law protection orders (POs) have been the primary legal response to domestic violence internationally for a number of decades. However, evidence of their effectiveness is mixed due to variations in application within and across countries and variable quality of the research with most studies at high risk of bias. The purpose of this systematic review (defined as a review and comparison of existing studies on an identified topic) and meta-analysis (defined as a statistical method that combines the results of several studies to generate an average result) was to evaluate the effectiveness of POs in reducing violation rates of domestic violence, compare violation rates reported by victims and police reports, and identify factors that influence violation and re-offense.

Twenty-five studies that evaluated the effectiveness of POs in reducing recidivism in domestic violence were included in the analysis within this study. Key findings from the analysis include:

  1. Violation rates were found to be higher for victim reports compared with police reports.
  2. Violation rates were reduced when protective orders are used in combination with arrests.
  3. PO violation rates were lower among perpetrators without histories of arrest for committing violence, perpetrators not engaging in stalking, and where couples have had medium to high incomes.

There is no consensus among existing studies about what the most appropriate methodology is to measure PO effectiveness. Although the studies in this review reported individual violation rates ranging between 20.5% (police reports) and 65.3% (victim reports), many studies reported that victims experienced the PO as effective, helpful, or made them feel safer (e.g., Ammar et al., 2012; Logan, Cole, et al., 2007; Logan, Shannon, et al., 2007; Logan & Walker, 2009, 2010a; Logan et al., 2008). This finding suggests that while the reoccurrence of violence persists to some extent, having a PO can be perceived as beneficial by the victim and have a positive impact on their sense of safety.

Future research should establish a more unified approach to evaluating the effectiveness and violations of POs.

(The expanded abstract is excerpted and adapted from the article cited above)