Understanding Behavioral Barriers to Demand for Domestic Violence Services

Last registered on October 30, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

Understanding Behavioral Barriers to Demand for Domestic Violence Services
Initial registration date
June 22, 2020

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
June 23, 2020, 11:12 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
October 30, 2020, 11:26 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

University of Connecticut

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Princeton University
PI Affiliation
University of Connecticut
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute, University of Munich

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Rates of domestic violence (DV) are increasing rapidly in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. What are the barriers that victims of DV face in reporting and leaving abusive relationships? How can policymakers eliminate the obstacles that victims face? This project aims to answer these questions through a novel intervention that targets information constraints, belief updating, and victim self-blaming. We use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and Prolific to survey a set of 6,000 women and look at common barriers that women face when in an abusive relationship; we then provide treatments that give victims access to resources for reporting, information about the health status of their relationships, and videos that break down self-blame and encourage self-esteem building. Our research attempts to analyze what the most important barriers are for victims of domestic violence, and how they can reduce self-blaming, increase emotional and psychological wellbeing, and ultimately report or leave abusive relationships.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Amaral, Sofia et al. 2020. "Understanding Behavioral Barriers to Demand for Domestic Violence Services." AEA RCT Registry. October 30. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6038-1.3
Sponsors & Partners


Experimental Details


We aim to test four interventions that are likely to determine pathways to aid victims of DV during the current pandemic and future mandated stay at home orders: our interventions target information constraints, belief constraints, and barriers to reporting such as victim self-blaming.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Primary outcomes for our project include information seeking, information sharing, and relationship beliefs.

● Information Seeking: We will ask respondents if they visited the National Domestic Violence Hotline site, as well as questions about the content of the site to check respondents’ truthfulness about visiting the site. We will also ask respondents if they used the National Domestic Violence Hotline anonymous chat. In this way, we will measure the take up and use of the resources that we provide in our treatments.

● Information Sharing: We will ask respondents if they expect to share information about the health of their relationship with friends or family; we will also ask about their willingness to share information with a counselor. In this way, we measure their willingness to share and speak about their relationship and its health.

● Relationship Beliefs: We ask respondents in our baseline their beliefs about a variety of behaviors and if these behaviors qualify as abusive. In our baseline, large gaps are evident: many women rate physical violence as abuse but do not rate behaviors such as controlling what a partner wears or isolating a partner from family as abusive. We will measure these beliefs again at endline in order to see if women update their beliefs about what qualifies as abusive behavior. In this way, we measure women’s understanding of forms of abuse such as psychological and emotional abuse.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
See Pre-Analysis Plan

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
The secondary outcomes that we will look at are: relationship conditions, relationship expectations, economic expectations, psychological wellbeing, and attendance to a One Love Foundation workshop.

● Relationship Conditions: We ask respondents a series of questions about the health of their relationship, including questions that measure physical, emotional, and mental abuse. In this way, we check to see if there are any changes in the conditions of women’s relationships before and after treatment.

● Relationship Expectations: Our survey asks respondents their satisfaction with their relationship and their beliefs about the future of their relationship. We look at whether women plan to have children with their current partner and how long they expect to be in their current relationship. We will measure how these answers change when women are updated about the health of their relationship, given information about resources available to them if they are in an unhealthy relationship, and given information to help break cycles of self-blame and embarrassment. Beliefs about relationships will be elicited in both endlines to measure how sensitive these effects are to fade out.

● Economic Expectations: Our surveys ask respondents about their future expectations to make economic decisions with a partner. We ask about large purchases such as homes and car, joint savings and education accounts, and willingness to open private savings accounts without a partner’s knowledge.

● Psychological Wellbeing: To measure psychological wellbeing, we use questions from the GHQ-12 scale of depression and anxiety. This index allows us to look at levels of stress, depression, anxiety, and self-worth in respondents. We also will use a measure of self-esteem, risk aversion, and self-worth from Gallup.

● Locus of Control: We will use questions to determine respondent’s “locus of control,” or how strongly they believe they have control over situations that happen to them. People with an external locus of control are more likely to have higher anxiety and attribute bad situations to fate; they don’t believe they have control over their lives. We will test for changes in locus of control.

● Self-blame Learning: In our fourth treatment arm, we ask respondents to summarize the contents of a video that covers domestic violence and victim self-blaming. We look at their summaries as well as their willingness to blame victims in DV incidents. We measure their response to statements such as “Domestic violence victims are often as responsible for the situation as perpetrators are.” Beyond this, we also look at updates in respondents blaming themselves with questions from Gallup’s polls about self-blame, self-image, and self-esteem.

● One Love Workshop Attendance: At the end of our baseline survey, we will ask participants if they are interested in attending a workshop on unhealthy and healthy relationships put on by our partner, One Love Foundation. We measure attendance to this workshop as a secondary and exploratory outcome.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
See Pre-Analysis Plan

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We will randomize our 6000 subjects into the five treatment arms (including one control arm). We will restrict respondents on demographic elements; namely, we will only sample women who are currently partnered and living with their partners. From this sample, we will randomize the 6000 women into the five arms at the individual level.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
See Pre-Analysis Plan
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
See Pre-Analysis Plan
Supporting Documents and Materials


Document Name
IRB Approval
Document Type
Document Description
IRB Approval
IRB Approval

MD5: bc8c89ec9a94706afcafc38a4b31ce98

SHA1: 314f106d13a81287759df0de9cc1fed52de67b77

Uploaded At: June 22, 2020

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Princeton University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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