Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Trace Kershaw


Introduction: Intimate partner violence (IPV) can impact the mental health of survivors; however, little is known about the role of state-level restorative justice policies. Restorative justice policies are survivor-centered justice approaches focused on repairing harm between the survivor and perpetrator while ensuring perpetrator accountability, which may buffer the mental health outcomes among IPV survivors. Furthermore, the impact of restorative justice policies on mental health may be influenced by the degree of state-level support for policy implementation through administrative guidelines or program funding. This study examined: (1) the relationship between IPV exposure and women’s perceived mental health and assessed state restorative justice policies as an effect modifier; and (2) the relationship between restorative justice policy implementation support and mental health among IPV survivors. Methods: State-level data on restorative justice policies were drawn from The Restorative Justice Legislative Directory, a database containing restorative justice legislation in the United States. Individual-level data on adult women who reported physical, sexual or psychological IPV were collected from the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), a nationally representative study of noninstitutionalized adult women and men. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) models, with individuals nested within states, were conducted to examine associations between IPV, state-level restorative justice policies, and perceived mental health (N=5104). GEE was used to examine the association between restorative justice policy implementation support and perceived mental health among IPV survivors (n=1164). Results: Women who experienced IPV had worse perceived mental health compared to women without these experiences (B [95% CI] = -0.13 [-0.15, -0.11], p<0.01). The inverse relationship between IPV and survivor’s perceived mental health was attenuated in states with a restorative justice policy vs. states with no restorative justice policy (B [95% CI] = 0.05 [0.00, 0.09], p=0.04). Stronger support for restorative justice policy implementation was associated with better mental health among IPV survivors (B [95% CI] = 0.02 [0.00, 0.04], p=0.04). Conclusion: Restorative justice policies may serve as a scalable tool to reduce the negative mental health sequelae of experiencing IPV and an approach to strengthening the current justice response for IPV survivors. Further, ensuring implementation support for restorative justice policies may enhance their impact on the mental health of women IPV survivors.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access