Community Crime Prevention and Intimate Violence in Chicago, 1995-1998



Intimate violence is seldom a single event, but rather a continuing relationship punctuated by verbal and physical abuse. Empirical evidence indicates that previous violent events cumulate to determine the development of each succeeding event, though escalation is not inevitable. Efforts at prevention or intervention, if they are to be effective, must take into account not just one event or circumstance, but also the pattern of repetition. These violent events take place at a location. That location lies within a neighborhood context. Research has suggested that a neighborhood's collective efficacy and capacity to solve problems are linked to neighborhood violence. Collective efficacy and community capacity are each a "social good" -- a resource for the entire neighborhood, derived from the social interaction of neighborhood residents. Community capacity to solve problems includes collective efficacy as well as social resources that result from neighborhood organizations and the neighborhood's clout in the city. There are many avenues through which a woman's neighborhood can provide resources and support for help-seeking and the reduction of violence. They include, but go beyond, the physical availability and cultural accessibility of nearby support services. Intervention from a public health, public safety, or helping agency may not be sufficient or even necessary for a woman to escape a dangerous situation. Formal interventions occur in a context of interventions initiated by the woman herself with the support of natural helping networks. Research indicates that an abused woman's ability to mobilize social control effectively is an interactive process related to her resources and individual situation, as well as to the availability of services. Therefore, support from informal social networks may be as vital as support from formal community services. The vast majority of research on collective efficacy and violence has focused on street crime, not on violence committed within the family. The few studies that exist suggest that, when a neighborhood enjoys greater collective efficacy, the violence-reduction benefits may accrue not only to those who are victimized on the street or in public places, but also to those who are victimized behind closed doors. However, because of methodological limitations in those studies, it is difficult to examine the processes underlying the association. To study the effect of the neighborhood context on an abused woman's ability to escape further violence, it is necessary to follow the experiences of individual abused women over time. Though many agree that analysis of the contextual effect of the community on an abused woman's help-seeking and on violence reduction is sorely needed, such an analysis is not simple. It requires longitudinal data on women being physically abused by an intimate partner, and data on the efficacy and capacity of the neighborhoods where each woman lives. Together, the Chicago Women's Health Risk Study (CWHRS) and the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) evaluation can provide this information. This study sought to answer the question: If a woman is experiencing intimate partner violence, does the collective efficacy and community capacity of her neighborhood facilitate or erect barriers to her ability to escape violence, other things being equal? To address this question, longitudinal data on a sample of 210 abused women from the CHICAGO WOMEN'S HEALTH RISK STUDY, 1995-1998 (ICPSR 3002) were combined with community context data for each woman's residential neighborhood taken from the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) evaluation, LONGITUDINAL EVALUATION OF CHICAGO'S COMMUNITY POLICING PROGRAM, 1993-2000 (ICPSR 3335).
Date made available2003
PublisherICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research
Date of data productionJan 1 1995 - Jan 1 1998
Geographical coverageChicago

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