Risk of lethality
One of the most prominent tools for measuring the likelihood of lethality/ intimate partner murder or near lethality is the Danger Assessment, which has been evaluated through formal research and adapted to provide indicators of a woman’s specific level of risk on a continuum from low to extreme risk. The tool involves 2 key components:
- A calendar to assist women to track specific incidents of violence as a means to recall and develop awareness of the extent and types of abuse she has experienced over the previous calendar year and their relationship to family and community events (e.g. birthdays, holidays, sporting events, other)
- A checklist of 20 “yes/no” questions of risk factors for lethality, which include:
- The previous use of physical violence by the perpetrator against the woman.
- The abuser's lack of employment.
- Availability of a gun.
- The woman having a child in the home from a previous relationship.
- Women separating from the violent partner after having lived with them. This is particularly high risk when an abuser is highly controlling.
- Other characteristics of the abusive relationship, such as stalking; strangulation; forced sex; abuse during pregnancy; a pattern of escalating severity and frequency of physical violence; perpetrator suicidality; perceptions of danger on the part of the victim; and child abuse.
Source: Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2004.
- Alongside risk factors, the tool includes protective factors against femicide, such as previous arrests for domestic violence; and women who have never lived with the perpetrator.
The Assessment may be completed by the woman on her own, or through an interview or counseling context with assistance from staff. All information for the assessment comes from the survivor, which makes it an appropriate tool for the shelter context.