Literature supports the impact of intimate partner violence (IPV) on women’s short and long-term material hardship; yet, little research has examined the role of civil legal services in addressing women’s economic self-sufficiency. Using survey data from a sample of low-income women seeking civil legal services related to IPV, we examined changes in women’s economic self-sufficiency over a one-year period of time. The sample consisted of women who were experiencing IPV and receiving assistance with a civil protective order (CPO) or a family law problem. Eighty-five women completed three waves of data collected, baseline and every six months, over a period of one year. Nearly two-thirds of the women received assistance for a CPO (n = 56); the rest were represented in a family law matter. Approximately 45% of women lived in non-metro/rural areas (n = 38). Measures of economic self-sufficiency included income, use of public assistance, adequacy of family resources, and perceptions of the difficulty living off their current income. Women’s monthly income and adequacy of some family resources increased, while difficulty living on their current income and the number of assistance resources used decreased (Wave 1 to 3). There was no relation between the type or amount of legal services received and changes in study outcomes. Study findings suggest that civil legal services are a critical component of a community coordinated response to IPV.
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Acknowledgments This project was supported by Award No. 2010-WG-BX-0009, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.
This project was supported by Award No. 2010-WG-BX-0009, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice. We would like to thank Shellie Mackel, Dennis Groenenboom, and the AmeriCorps workers at Iowa Legal Aid for their support and contributions to the project. We also thank the research assistants and interviewers who devoted so much time and effort to the project. Finally, we thank the women who participated in the project and shared their experiences. Their strength and courage are truly remarkable and we hope this, and all publications, honors their voices.
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
- Civil legal services
- Domestic violence
- Economic self-sufficiency
- Intimate partner violence