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Do Protective Orders Work in Rural Areas?

Study examines effectiveness of protective orders in urban and rural settings

  • July 24, 2015
  • By domesticshelters.org
Do Protective Orders Work in Rural Areas?

Domestic violence happens everywhere—in single-family homes and apartments, in the north and south, in urban and rural areas. And that means victims also are seeking personal protection orders (PPOs) in all of these settings. But, do urban dwellers view PPOs the same as people who live in rural areas? Are they as effective? One study, lead by a researcher at the University of Kentucky, aimed to find out.

Researchers started by interviewing 213 women who had PPOs across five urban and rural jurisdictions. The first finding was that women in rural areas reported higher levels of fear of future violence at the time the PPO was issued than women in urban areas. Researchers suggested some reasons for this might be: rural women are more likely to be geographically and socially isolated than urban women, rural women have less access to social services than urban women, and rural women are more likely than urban women to be married to their abuser and have children with their abuser.

The study also looked at the barriers to getting protective orders for both urban and rural women. Nearly 40 percent of respondents mentioned judicial bias as a barrier to getting a PPO, although more rural women than urban women stated this as a reason for not getting one previously. Rural women were more likely to state that “who you know” in the judicial system was important in gaining a protective order. Urban women, on the other hand, reported having more difficulty navigating the judicial process itself. They also cited the fear of confronting an abuser in court as a barrier more often than rural women.

The good news is that once protective orders are in place, they have similar effectiveness rates in urban and rural settings. About half of the women included in the study experienced PPO violations in the six months after the order was served (meaning that half didn't experience PPO violations). And those violations that did occur were less violent than the violence that occurred before the protective order.

Need help getting a protective order? Read How to Get a Personal Protection Order to get started.