Program Description;

OLR Research Report

June 27, 2011


2011-R-0196 (Revised)



By: Amanda Gordon, Research Fellow

You asked for information on domestic violence registries.


A domestic violence registry is a free, public, searchable database of individuals convicted of domestic violence-related crimes. Domestic violence registries allow individuals to research potential partners to ensure they do not have a history of domestic violence, and may let survivors of domestic violence know where their abuser is.

Currently, there are no state-run domestic violence registries, although legislation creating them in Texas and New York was considered earlier this year. But a private enterprise, The National Domestic Violence Registry (NDVR) (which began as and was formerly under The Weaker Vessel Ministry, Inc.) recently created the “first national database model for domestic violence convictions.” According to NDVR, the registry is a “work-in-progress.”

Organizations that support victims of domestic violence have voiced both concern and support for domestic violence registries. Detractors believe that a domestic violence registry cannot increase victim safety and offender accountability because many abusers are not convicted and, therefore, would not be included in the registry. Moreover, they are concerned that a registry could violate the privacy of an abuser's prior victims. Supporters, however, assert that domestic violence is a much bigger problem than many people realize and that a registry would raise awareness.


A domestic violence registry is a searchable database of individuals convicted of domestic violence. It is free and open to the public, similar to sex offender registries that exist in most states. The registry includes information such as the name, birth date, address, a physical description and recent photograph of the offender, a list of offenses for which the offender was convicted, and the date of each offense.

Domestic violence registries enable an individual to look up potential partners to make sure they do not have a domestic violence history. According to experts, domestic abusers often woo and charm their victims at the beginning of the courtship. The registry allows individuals to learn more about someone before the relationship becomes abusive. In addition, it allows domestic violence survivors to know the whereabouts of their former abuser.


Currently, no state-run domestic violence registries exist. But Texas and New York legislatures considered them in 2011.


In Texas, proposed House Bill 100 would have created a “central database containing information about certain offenders who have committed offenses involving family or dating violence.” Any individual convicted of domestic violence at least three times would have to have his or her name placed in the registry. The legislation died in a legislative subcommittee.

New York

In New York, proposed House Bill 7275 would have established a domestic violence registration act. Like the Texas legislation, it would require individuals who have been convicted of domestic violence at least three times to register as a repeat offender. In addition, it would (1) charge offenders with the duty to notify law enforcement officials of any change in address, (2) establish a special telephone number the public could call to inquire whether a particular person was on the list, and (3) require a public awareness campaign to advise the public of the registry. The bill died in the Corrections Committee.


Although no state-run domestic violence registries exist, in 2007 a private enterprise, the National Domestic Violence Registry (NDVR), created the “first national database model for domestic violence convictions.”

NDVR is a database of convicted domestic violence offenders. It is patterned after sex offender registries and is provided free of charge to the general public. Offenders listed in the registry have been found guilty of crimes such as domestic abuse, stalking, criminal confinement, intimidation, strangulation, and domestic battery. The registry can be searched by the offender's last name or by state. Each entry generally contains the offender's: name, last-known residence, birth date, gender, race, hair color, eye color, photograph, convictions with case numbers, and a link to court documents or case information. The organization acquires the information from state and county public records.

According to NDVR, the registry is a “work-in-progress.” To date, the registry has been populated by information submitted by domestic violence survivors and advocates. NDVR verifies this information against public court records before placing the offender's name and information on the registry.

For more information, see the following links to NDVR: http://www.domesticviolencedatabase.org/default-db.asp; http://www.domesticviolencedatabase.org/pressreleases/NDVR_Press_%20Release_052311.pdf


Organizations that support victims of domestic violence have voiced both concern and support regarding domestic violence registries. Although they may like the idea of a resource that is available to victims and potential victims, some of these organizations believe a registry cannot achieve the intended outcome of increasing victim safety and offender accountability. One of the problems of a domestic violence registry, they say, is that many abusers are not convicted and, thus, would not be listed on the registry. In this way, the registry is not only incomplete, but could provide a false sense of security if a partner's name is not on it. The need for a registry is premised, in part, on the assumption that if victims knew about a partner's history, they would leave. These organizations suggest that leaving an abusive relationship can be dangerous and should be done thoughtfully and with well-constructed safety plans, which the victim may not be equipped to do.

These organizations also express a concern about the registry violating victims' privacy. Notifying the public about the identity of domestic violence offenders will most likely mean that the domestic violence victim cannot remain anonymous (e.g., registering an abusive husband likely identifies his ex-wife). Moreover, the posting of an offender's name could put the victim in more danger if the offender blames the victim.

Those organizations favoring the registry assert that domestic abuse is a much bigger problem than many people realize and that the registry would provide a needed service to the community.