Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Police-Reported Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration: A Mixed Methods Approach

Sherry Lipsky, Meg Cristofalo, Sarah Reed, Raul Caetano, Peter Roy-Byrne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The objectives of this study were to examine racial and ethnic disparities in perpetrator and incident characteristics and discrepancies between police charges and reported perpetrator behaviors in police-reported intimate partner violence (IPV). This cross-sectional study used standardized police data and victim narratives of IPV incidents reported to the police in Dallas, Texas in 2004. The sample included non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic male perpetrators who were residents of Dallas (N = 4470). Offense charges were prioritized in descending order: sexual assault, aggravated assault, simple assault, kidnapping, robbery, and intimidation. Textual data from the victim narratives were coded, based on the revised Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS), and categorized in descending order of priority: sexual (severe, minor), physical (severe, minor), and psychological (severe, minor) assault. Perpetrators were more likely to be Black and Hispanic. Perpetrator and incident characteristics varied significantly by race/ethnicity, particularly age, age difference between partners, marital status, injury, and interracial relationships. Qualitative data revealed that greater proportions of Black and Hispanic men perpetrated severe physical, but not sexual violence, compared with White men. The greatest disparity between CTS categories and police charges occurred among those cases identified by the CTS as severe physical IPV; 84% were charged with simple assault. Significant differences by race/ethnicity were found only for simple assault charges, which were coded as severe physical as opposed to minor physical IPV more often among Black (69% and 31%) compared with White (62% and 38%) men. The disparities revealed in this study highlight the need to enhance primary and secondary prevention efforts within Black and Hispanic communities and to increase linkages between police, community, and public health organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2144-2162
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • criminology
  • legal intervention
  • violent offenders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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