Narrative analysis of interviews with judges shows reliance on biases, stereotypes, and myths to determine Domestic Violence Protective Order cases
Julie Kafka, a graduate research assistant at the IPRC, was published this month in Qualitative Health Research. This is Ms. Kafka’s first publication as lead author. The article is entitled, “Judging Domestic Violence From the Bench: A Narrative Analysis of Judicial Anecdotes About Domestic Violence Protective Order Cases.”
This paper has multiple methodological and practical implications for qualitative researchers and the domestic violence field respectively.
“Methodologically, we found that it is feasible to analyze the everyday stories people tell about their own experiences so that we (as qualitative researchers) can identify patterns in how certain individuals or social groups are commonly depicted in those stories,” said Kafka. “This, in turn, provides valuable insight into the narrator’s perceptions, stereotypes, and biases.”
According to Kafka, there is emerging evidence that judges may rely on stereotypes, myths, and biases to determine whether or not individuals who have requested a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) are deserving of one.
“In practice, this means that some domestic violence survivors who are in need will not receive legal protection from the abuse, despite requesting a DVPO,” she said. “We need to train judges to recognize these biases and stereotypes so that they can correct them and more objectively evaluate the case at hand. Judges may also experience compassion fatigue when they hear about domestic violence so regularly, and they may need greater support to help them process what they’re witnessing.”
Ms. Kafka is in her third year of study in the Department of Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, having just completed her MPH and started her first year in the doctoral program. Prior to her studies at UNC, Ms. Kafka worked at the Education Development Center (EDC) in Boston on early childhood mental health promotion and substance abuse prevention. Since arriving at UNC, she has worked primarily with Dr. Beth Moracco studying firearm-related intimate partner violence. She has also worked with the NC Department of Public Health on the state’s violent death reporting system (NC-VDRS). Ms. Kafka is a recipient of the UNC Graduate School Doctoral Merit Award. Research interests include the prevention of intimate partner violence, dating violence, firearm violence, and adverse childhood experiences.
Kafka, J. M., Moracco, K.E., Barrington, C. & Mortazavi, A. L. (2019). “Judging Domestic Violence From the Bench: A Narrative Analysis of Judicial Anecdotes About Domestic Violence Protective Order Cases.” Qualitative Health Research. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732318821691.