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Processing Gender-Based Violence: Correlates of the Reporting of and Arrests for Sexually-Based Offenses and Domestic Violence Incidents

Colleen M Ray, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation focuses on the reporting of and the arrests for two forms of gender-based violence (GBV), sexually-based offenses (SBO) and domestic violence incidents (DVI). I use three different theoretical perspectives (focal concerns perspective, Black’s theory of law, and intersectionality/Black feminist thought) to choose correlates about characteristics of the victim, the offender, the overlap between the victim and the offender, and the crime itself. First, I assess correlates of reporting using National Crime Victimization Survey data from 2006-2015 (n=2,377). Second, I examine the decision to arrest using data from the National Incident Based Reporting System data in 2015 (n=2,218,287). Results indicate that the victim reports the crime they experience depending on perceived blameworthiness of the offender, as evidenced through the presence of an injury, the use of a weapon, and the utilization of self-protective behaviors. Arrests, however, are associated with characteristics of the victim, the offender, their overlap, and the specifics of the crime. Although the decision to report, which is made by the victim, seems to be based more on markers of blameworthiness of the offender, this may not be the case for arrests. Specifically, discrimination appears to be present in arrests, where demographic characteristics of both the victim and the offender are associated with the probability of arrest. There were few differences by crime type for the models of reporting to the police. The decision to arrest, however, differs by crime type for most correlates. Future work should continue to explore what factors are considered by victim’s when making the decision to report. Specifically, what other markers of blameworthiness might be considered. Additionally, more work should be done assessing how discrimination affects the rates of arrest for SBO and DVI. Finally, research should continue to compare forms of GBV to assess whether they differ in their relationships with reporting and arrest.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Ray, Colleen M, "Processing Gender-Based Violence: Correlates of the Reporting of and Arrests for Sexually-Based Offenses and Domestic Violence Incidents" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI13857849.