Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 32, Issue 8, pp 767–773 | Cite as

Bruise Documentation, Race and Barriers to Seeking Legal Relief for Intimate Partner Violence Survivors: a Retrospective Qualitative Study

  • Lauren S. Deutsch
  • Kathryn Resch
  • Tiffany Barber
  • Yoni Zuckerman
  • Jennifer Thompson Stone
  • Catherine Cerulli
Original Article


Documentation of physical injuries from intimate partner violence (IPV) is critically important when a victim seeks legal help. Bruising, a common IPV injury, is often less visible on victims of color. This retrospective qualitative study is focused on IPV survivors’ and service providers’ experiences with the complex interrelationship between IPV injury, bruise documentation, race and legal assistance. Focus group results with a racially diverse group of female IPV survivors and legal service providers indicate that all victims struggle with documenting their bruises, but for women of color, even documentation of visible bruising underrepresents the severity of their IPV injuries. Further, there are a number of social, logistic, and systemic barriers to injury documentation that may make legal relief for IPV difficult for all women, but particularly more difficult for women of color. Proposed solutions to address the gap include, improved documentation techniques, and greater education for legal service providers. Implications for the field of family violence generally and potential future research directions are also discussed.


Domestic violence Racial disparities Injury Photographic evidence 



Christina Raimondi and Willow Domestic Violence Center (formerly Alternatives for Battered Women, Inc.)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Healthy Baby NetworkRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory of Interpersonal Violence and VictimizationUniversity of Rochester Medical CenterRochesterUSA

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