Idle Hands: The Effects of Unstructured Time on the Frequency and Severity of Spousal Violence

Maureen Outlaw, The Pennsylvania State University

Scholars have ascertained that routine activity patterns typified by high levels of unstructured time are related to both offending (Osgood et al., 1996) and victimization (Wooldredge, 1998). The current study examines whether the increased risk resulting from unstructured time extends to victimization by a spouse. Data from the female sample of the Violence and Threats of Violence against women and men in the U.S., 1994-1996 were used to examine the relationship between unstructured time and the frequency and severity of violence among identified victims of spousal violence. The findings indicated that the higher levels of unstructured time available to both victims and their spouses were related to more frequent and severe violence, although these effects differed according to the level of coercive control in the relationship. Implications for routine activity theory and intimate partner violence are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006