Mandatory arrest: A means of primary and secondary prevention of abuse of female partners


Journal Article

The purpose of this paper is to examine mandatory arrest laws within Exchange Theory as a means of primary and secondary prevention of a major health problem, abuse of female partners. Abuse of female partners is identified as a major health problem that affects millions of women every year. Injuries that are a direct results of abuse vary from contusions, abrasions, and lacerations to death. Several authors have noted that abuse tends to be repetitive and to escalate over time. According to Exchange Theory interactions between individuals occur on the basis that an exchange of rewards occurs. If reciprocity is not received, the interaction will be discontinued or in the situation where it is known beforehand that reward is not possible, the interaction is never initiated. In the case of female partners it is theorized that males abuse females because they know there is no punishment and the act in fact may be associated with various rewards. Primary prevention is true prevention whereas secondary prevention seeks only to decrease the individual's vulnerability to, in this case, battering. Mandatory arrest laws are theorized to provide a societal and cultural mandate that abuse of female partners is unacceptable. It is further proposed that such a message and its concomitant police response take away any positive rewards the abuser might perceive and replaces them with negative sanctions. The legal issues with regard to mandatory arrest laws are discussed. Consideration is also given to the evidence that currently exists regarding the success of mandatory arrest and suggestions are made for implementation.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Humphreys, JC; Humphreys, WO

Published Date

  • January 1, 1985

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 10 / 1-4

Start / End Page

  • 267 - 280

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0361-5170

Citation Source

  • Scopus