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Restraining orders among victims of intimate partner homicide
  1. K A Vittes,
  2. S B Sorenson
  1. School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  1. Dr K A Vittes, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205–1996, USA; kvittes{at}


Background: Most intimate partner homicides (IPHs) follow a long history of violence and occur while the victim is ending the relationship. Restraining orders are a common legal recourse by which to seek protection from an abusive partner. This study expands on prior research by examining the restraining order history of IPH victims by characteristics of the victim, assailant, and homicide.

Methods: State-wide databases containing information about restraining orders and homicides were linked, and bivariate and multivariate statistics were then calculated to identify differences between IPH victims who had and had not been issued a restraining order.

Results: About 11% of 231 women killed by male intimates had been issued a restraining order. About one-fifth of the female IPH victims who had a restraining order were killed within 2 days of the order being issued; about one-third were killed within a month. Nearly half of those with a restraining order had been protected by multiple orders. Victims killed in a shared residence (versus elsewhere) had lower odds of having a restraining order, whereas victims from rural (versus urban) counties, married (versus dating) victims, and Latino (versus non-Latino) victim–offender dyads had higher odds of having a restraining order. The type of weapon used was not associated with whether the victim had been under the protection of a restraining order.

Conclusions: Most female IPH victims did not have a restraining order when they were killed. Further research is needed to determine whether restraining orders protect against IPH and, if they do, on how to increase their utilization.

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  • Competing interests: None.