Date of Award

Spring 2021

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts


Political Science


Donald Davison

Committee Member

Matthew Nichter

Committee Member

Julia Maskivker


This paper evaluates U.S. social and criminal justice policies in the context of intimate partner violence (IPV) against lower-income Black women in the U.S. Theories from the literature on IPV and gender-based violence (GBV) at-large, as well as the literature on inequity, are utilized to examine how entrenched racist, sexist, and classist ideas influence policymaking. It is argued that this process has resulted in policies that reinforce the higher rates of IPV against lower-income Black women as compared to their upper-income white peers. Two overarching research questions are addressed to support this argument. First, how have pejorative stereotypes against Black women shaped U.S. social and criminal justice policymaking in relation to IPV? Secondly, what is the relationship between biased policy frameworks and IPV victimization among lower-income Black women? A heuristic, the contextual-targeted policy continuum, is developed to connect relevant state characteristics to different “policy environments” for IPV, as conceptualized in this paper. Four states are selected for their similarities and differences across these characteristics: Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, and New York. Case study analyses focus on warrantless arrest laws and TANF programs in these states. Through these analyses, it is argued that states with larger and more concentrated Black populations generally adopt policies that directly address IPV rather than its risk factors—particularly those among lower-income Black women.

Rights Holder

Cristina Toppin