Situational Contexts of Rural Violence: A Comparison of Male and Female Perpetration

Date01 May 2017
Published date01 May 2017
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
2017, Vol. 33(2) 189 –206
© The Author(s) 2017
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DOI: 10.1177/1043986216688813
Situational Contexts of Rural
Violence: A Comparison of
Male and Female Perpetration
Callie Marie Rennison1 and Walter S. DeKeseredy2
The amount of social scientific knowledge about rural violence pales in comparison
with that of urban violence, and even less is known about the situational contexts of
rural violence. Using National Crime Victimization Survey data, we explore situational
contexts of rural violence in general, as well as compare male- and female-perpetrated
violence contexts. Results indicate that the contexts of violence committed by females
are characterized by main effects (i.e., no weapons, no injuries across a variety of
contexts), while male-perpetrated violence is highly contextual. An important finding
emerged from studying contexts associated with male offenders and female victims—
in every dominant context with one exception, male perpetrators were engaged in
woman abuse. These findings highlight the need for greater attention to rural violence
and variation in how this violence is perpetrated.
rural violence, sex, situational contexts, CACC, conjunctive, woman abuse
Rural criminological research has grown considerably in the past 20 years
(Donnermeyer, 2016a), with much of the empirical work focusing on interpersonal
violence, especially on male violence against women in intimate relationships
(DeKeseredy, Hall-Sanchez, Dragiewicz, & Rennison, 2016; Donnermeyer &
DeKeseredy, 2014). We now know that there are many rural communities with rates of
violence equal to, or even higher than, those of more densely populated areas
(Donnermeyer, 2016b). Consider intimate violence. Rennison, DeKeseredy, and
1University of Colorado Denver, CO, USA
2West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA
Corresponding Author:
Callie Marie Rennison, School of Public Affairs, 1380 Lawrence Street, Suite 500, University of Colorado
Denver, SPA, Campus Box 142, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364, USA.
688813CCJXXX10.1177/1043986216688813Journal of Contemporary Criminal JusticeRennison and DeKeseredy
190 Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 33(2)
Dragiewicz (2013) found that a higher percentage of rural females are victims of such
crime than are urban and suburban females. Also using the National Crime Victimization
Survey (NCVS), Rennison, DeKeseredy, and Dragiewicz (2012) found that rural sepa-
rated/divorced women report significantly higher rates of intimate rape/sexual assault
than do urban and suburban separated/divorced women.
In spite of this growing literature on rural violence, especially male-on-female inti-
mate violence, there is a conspicuous absence of empirical work on the situational
contexts of rural violence. That is, there have been no examinations of the situational
contexts associated with rural violence generally, or of rural violence committed by
males or by females. To address that shortcoming, using 1992 to 2014 NCVS data, this
exploration fills this major gap in the extant rural criminological literature and is
guided by several research questions:
Research Question 1: What is the nature of the situational contexts of rural
Research Question 2: What is the nature of situational contexts of rural violence
perpetrated primarily by females?
Research Question 3: What is the nature of the situational contexts of rural vio-
lence perpetrated only by males?
Data Collection and Sample
NCVS data are publicly available through the National Archive of Criminal Justice
Data (NACJD), and this survey is one of two official sources of national crime statis-
tics in the United States. These data are collected by the Census Bureau on behalf of
the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, and come from a sample of
housing units and group quarters in the United States (including Washington, DC)
using a stratified, multistage, cluster design (Hubble, 1995; Rennison et al., 2013;
Rennison & Rand, 2007). The survey is administered in person and over the phone to
individuals aged 12 or older residing at in-sample housing units. Interviews are con-
ducted every 6 months for a 3½ year period (each person is interviewed twice in a
year). Based on this survey methodology, NCVS data are representative of the nonin-
stitutionalized population of individuals aged 12 or older in the United States (Rennison
& Rand, 2007).
The NCVS offers several advantages for addressing our research questions: First,
the sampling frame identifies violence committed across the nation, including the inci-
dents occurring in rural areas. Second, the NCVS utilizes large samples, enabling the
parsing of data to consider relatively small populations, areas, and a variety of types of
crimes, including female-perpetrated rural violence. Third, the NCVS gathers infor-
mation on a variety of victim, offender, and incident characteristics providing needed
contextual information for this research. Fourth, data in the NCVS include both vio-
lence reported and unreported to the police, so it is not subject to limitations found in

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