Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2012

Document Type


First Advisor

Lorraine Bayard de Volo


Despite years of research done regarding the impacts of domestic violence, significant questions remain about the implications of arrest and conviction for women who are charged with domestic violence. Complex interactions between a woman’s role as victim and offender are relevant in the approaches researchers take when examining women as domestic violence perpetrators. In this investigation, I analyzed arrest and sentencing data from the Boulder County Domestic Violence Research Team, and then investigated those trends by interviewing legal professionals in Boulder County to determine if gender affects sentencing outcomes in intimate partner abuse cases. My results demonstrate that in the domestic violence sentencing process, gender is related to the criminal history of the defendant, the types of abuse that are committed, and the likelihood of a case dismissal. These trends point to the need for more extensive research about the ways that arrests and sentencing in domestic violence cases affect both victims and perpetrators. Importantly, this investigation also demonstrates that there is a need to establish policies which acknowledge the gendered dynamics of intimate partner abuse.