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April 20, 2020 | Policy Guidance, Report

The Impact of Mandatory Reporting Laws on Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence: Intersectionality, Help-Seeking and the Need for Change


Caroline Lippy, Selima Jumarali, Nkiru Nnawulezi, Emma Peyton Williams, Connie Burk


Journal of Family Violence

Publication Date:

April 2020

Research illustrates the importance of help-seeking for intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors. However, mandatory reporting (MR) laws can affect help-seeking by requiring some sources of support to report survivors to formal systems. This convergent mixed methods study of 2462 survivors surveyed through the National Domestic Violence Hotline explores how MR laws impact survivors’ help-seeking, the outcomes of their help-seeking, and whether their race, gender, and/or sexual orientation influenced their experiences. Findings indicated that MR laws reduce help-seeking for over a third of survivors, provider warnings about MR often reduce survivors’ ability to receive the support they seek, and reports when triggered make the situation worse for most survivors. Significant differences emerged by gender identity and race/ethnicity, emphasizing unique contexts for trans and gender non-conforming survivors and survivors of color. We provide policy and practice implications given these unintended harms of MR laws for IPV survivors.