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Abstract

In a national upsurge of domestic violence, often occurring in the home of the victim and often committed by a member of the family, the courts across the United States have been forced to define the limits of government protection from this most intimate form of abuse. It is estimated that each year as many as sixteen million women are injured from some form of spousal violence, and in 1989 alone nearly two and one-half million reports of child abuse were filed. When can an individual rely on state or police protection from this significant private danger? This reoccurring question, opaquely shaded by Constitutional and tort law considerations, seems to be generally dependent upon the factual issues surrounding the incident of violence, and consistently its boundaries of protection are framed not by expectation of protection or even the actual need for protection, but rather by the relationship of the victim to the state.

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