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Predicting Police Endorsement of Myths Surrounding Intimate Partner Violence

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Police endorsement of IPV myths may adversely influence police responses where survivors feel stigmatized, invalidated, or blamed and thus, can limit victim participation and aggravate case attrition. Little research has focused on predictors of police IPV myth endorsement. The purpose of the present study was to assess police endorsement of IPV mythology and identify predictors of these myths, filling a gap in existing literature. 523 survey responses from police personnel commissioned at a large, urban police department in one of the fifth most populous and diverse US cities were employed to assess IPV myth endorsement and identify predictors of IPV myths. Univariate results demonstrated relatively low IPV myth endorsement. A multivariate ordinary least squares regression revealed that men, increased trauma misconceptions, and decreased perceptions of preparedness in responding to IPV were significantly associated with increased IPV myth endorsement. Future research should continue to examine police IPV myth endorsement in smaller, rural agencies and those departments with homogenous populations. Implications include the targeted hiring of women to increase representation and decrease collective myth endorsement. Augmented training to dismantle IPV myths and affirm trauma response may transform the culture of police agencies over time.

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  1. When it became evident that violence against women was not restricted to married couples, terms such as “wife battering” and “spouse abuse” were replaced with a more inclusive descriptor, “domestic violence” (Nicolaidis and Paranjape 2009). The term domestic violence is still widely used today by the general public and among advocacy communities (Nicolaidis and Paranjape 2009), however, scholars have adopted more theoretically-accurate terminology to include violence between current or prior intimates. A host of terms have been used to describe IPV within the scholarly literature. Domestic violence, family violence, woman battering, partner abuse, dating violence and IPV remain common in research on partner violence, though some of these descriptors incorporate violence that occurs in relationships beyond intimates. For instance, family violence refers to a range of physically and emotionally abusive behaviors that can happen in the context of families, including between intimates, among children, and targeting elders (Niolon et al. 2017). Similarly, domestic violence may include violence between domestic partners who are not intimate but share a residence. The present study uses the terms IPV and partner abuse. Exceptions to this include when existing measures employed in this analysis have been titled using the term “domestic violence.”

  2. The memorandum of understanding with the police partner agency did not permit the authors to reveal the police department by name.

  3. Police participants were not provided individual incentive or reward for their participation per instructions by the police partner’s legal council.

  4. This municipal police agency uses “Family Violence” to describe Domestic Violence calls for service, which includes IPV, child abuse, elder abuse, and parental abuse.

  5. Prior to estimating statistical models, SPSS, Version 25.0 was used to screen the data for skewness and kurtosis. Estimates fell within the acceptable range and did not exceed the recommended cutoff values of 3.0 and 8.0, respectively (Kline 2005). Multicollinearity diagnostics were evaluated. Acceptable tolerance values are generally greater than 0.2 and less than 4.0, respectively (Belsey et al. 1980; Fox 1991). Acceptable VIF values fall below 2.5 (Tabachnick et al. 2007). Tolerance values for the variables in the present analysis ranged from .771 to .964 and variance inflation factors (VIFS) ranged from 1.04 to 1.30, indicating multicollinearity was not a problem (Belsey et al. 1980).


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The authors would like to thank the Crime Victims’ Institute at Sam Houston State University for support in funding the data collection and presentation of findings, the police partner agency for access to participants, Drs. Amanda Goodson and Tri Keah Henry for assistance with data collection, and Drs. Jason Ingram and Eryn Nicole O’Neal for their helpful feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript.

This article is based on the Master of Arts thesis completed by Fleming (2019).


The data employed for this project was part of a larger federal award, Grant No. 2016-SI-AX-0005 from the Office on Violence Against Women, National Institute of Justice and funding from the Crime Victims’ Institute at Sam Houston State University. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies.

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Correspondence to Cortney A. Franklin.

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Fleming, J.C., Franklin, C.A. Predicting Police Endorsement of Myths Surrounding Intimate Partner Violence. J Fam Viol 36, 407–416 (2021).

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