Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Criminology and Criminal Justice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

David A. Klinger


Matt Vogel

Karlijn Kuijpers

Kristin Carbone-Lopez


Over the past 50 years, attention to domestic violence as a social problem has grown substantially. With this heightened interest, remedies available to survivors have evolved in both scope and access. One popular avenue of help-seeking concerns civil protection orders (POs), which attempt to prevent subsequent abuse by setting conditions that regulate future interaction between abusers and survivors. Abusers, unfortunately, often violate POs with estimates of cases with violations ranging from 40 to 60%. Relatively little research, however, has examined the nature and determinants of PO violations using court records.

This dissertation addresses these little-studied issues by exploring variations in the nature of reported PO violations using 305 POs filed in St. Louis County. PO case files include survivors’ accounts of initial and subsequent victimization as well as the court’s response. Results indicate that a number of different PO violations are reported and that the correlates of PO violations vary between different types of violations. The correlates of violations involving continued abuse (e.g., assault, stalking) that are reported to the court are consistent with the correlates of violations captured in data relying on police records or participant disclosure. The correlates of violations involving technical violations of the PO (e.g., non-threatening communication, breach of parenting arrangements), however, are less consistent with prior research. This dissertation concludes with policy recommendations intended to improve the efficacy of POs as a mechanism to protect survivors of domestic violence.

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Criminology Commons