A survey of police officers in 27 states found they take less seriously victims of domestic violence who suffer at the hands of lesbian or gay partners than females abused by heterosexual male partners, according to a recent study by the Journal of Crime and Justice.
The study surveyed 273 police officers who were given different scenarios of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and asked to assess them based on the degree of dangers they perceived, the likelihood of the perpetrators inflicting future harm, and the culpability of victims.
According to study author Brenda Russell, a psychology professor at Pennsylvania State University, the officers surveyed rated male perpetrators of IPV as more “dangerous” to others than any other gender or sexual orientation.
In contrast, male victims of female perpetrators were considered “responsible” in some way for the abuse they suffered. Victims of lesbian and gay male violence were also considered more culpable and more likely to demonstrate thoughts and behaviors indicative of mental illness.
Despite the small sample size, the study concluded that its findings, “taken together, suggest police perceptions of potential danger, likelihood of past or future harm to their partner, and victim credibility are influenced by disputants’ gender and sexual orientation.”
“If police officers consider IPV to be more dangerous when initiated by a heterosexual male, it is possible they dismiss the potential danger of heterosexual female or perpetrators in same-sex relationships,” the study added.
Officers in the survey were chosen from the memberships of the National Association of Police Organizations and the Fraternal Order of Police.
The summary was prepared by TCR intern Davi Hernandez