Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Susan Caulfield

Second Advisor

Dr. Timothy Diamond

Third Advisor

Dr. Ronald Kramer

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Personal Protection Orders (PPOs) were enacted as one method of responding to the issue of domestic violence that was thought to be escalating in epidemic proportions across the United States. This research was grounded in social constructionist theory and sought to examine the perspectives of judges who authorize/deny PPOs and the implications these perspectives have for the legal process as well as the larger criminal justice system. Through my examination of the petitioning process, I gained insights about the relationships that exist between petitioners and respondents as well as the reasons petitioners cite for why s/he is seeking a PPO.

I began the research with an analysis of PPO cases (n=956) that were filed between 19997-2001. Based on the information gleaned from the PPO files, I conducted interviews with three judges in the research county who review PPO petitions and subsequently handle these cases. The findings of this research address a broad array of issues.

In conclusion, this research has some specific implications for social policy. More specifically, there are implications for petitioners and respondents, the court process, the criminal justice system, and social constructionist theory.