Heterosexual and Same-Sex Intimate Partner Violence: Police Attributions of Victim Culpability



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Intimate partner violence (IPV) has garnered the attention of scholars, policy makers, and social justice actors for several decades. Shortcomings in police response to IPV may be related to police attributions of victim culpability. Few empirical studies have assessed police officers’ assignment of blame, responsibility, and causality directed toward IPV survivors, particularly those who identify as LGBTQ+. Using a randomly-assigned, experimental vignette design, the current study employed surveys from a sample of 433 police officers commissioned at a sizeable police department in one of the most populous and diverse U.S. cities to: 1) assess culpability attributions directed toward IPV survivors, 2) determine whether culpability attributions differed based on the sexual orientation of the intimate couple, and 3) examine officer demographic, occupational, attitudinal, and experimental predictors of IPV culpability attributions directed toward heterosexual and same-sex couples. Theoretical considerations, policy implications, and future directions for empirical research are discussed.



Police attributions of culpability, Intimate partner violence, Heterosexual couples, Same-sex couples