Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Karen Terry

Committee Members

Brian Lawton

Amy Adamczyk

Subject Categories

Criminology | Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence


violence against women, patriarchy, gender equality, victimization


Violence against women (VAW) is a widespread social problem affecting nearly two million women in the United States each year (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). In recent years, feminist criminologists have called for the ‘resurrection’ of patriarchy as a theoretical explanation of VAW women (Hunnicutt, 2009) suggesting that the prior literature’s focus on gender inequality in social institutions must be broadened to include patriarchy’s ideological element. The empirical literature on VAW mostly examines the effects of gender inequality on rape and femicide often neglecting more common forms of violence that women experience. In addition, while there are some exceptions, this literature tends to treat women as a homogenous group thereby obscuring variation that may occur across victim-offender relationships and race and ethnic backgrounds. Finally, very little research examines the role of patriarchy on clearance rates of VAW, the institutional response to these incidents. Three feminist traditions and their hypotheses, the Marxist, Ameliorative, and Backlash, find mixed support throughout extant research, perhaps due data availability and varied operationalizations of gender inequality. As such, there is a need to examine patriarchy, both structurally and ideologically, as it relates to varieties of VAW and clearance rates of varieties of VAW. This dissertation tests these feminist hypotheses using data from National Incident Based Reporting System and other sources in both multilevel modelling and regressions with clustered standard errors. Ultimately, this dissertation seeks to address the gaps in prior literature on VAW, examine fuller operationalizations of patriarchy, and extend these feminist frameworks to varieties of clearance rates of VAW.