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Assessing Risk Factors for Intimate Partner Homicide

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 250 Dated: November 2003 Pages: 14-19
Date Published
November 2003
6 pages
Publication Series
This article examines the Danger Assessment Tool, a series of questions designed to measure a woman's risk in an abusive relationship.
A team of researchers studied the Danger Assessment Tool and found that despite certain limitations, the tool can with some reliability identify women that may be at risk of being killed by their intimate partners. The study found that women that scored 8 or higher on the Danger Assessment Tool were at very grave risk. The average score for women that were murdered was just under 8. Women that scored 4 or higher were at great risk. The average score for abused women was just over 3. The findings indicate that the Danger Assessment Tool can assist in assessing battered women that may be at risk of being killed as well as those that are not. The study also found that almost half the murdered women studied did not recognize the high level of their risk. Thus, a tool like the Danger Assessment -- or another risk assessment process -- may assist women (and the professionals that help them) to better understand the potential for danger and the level of their risk. Eighty-three percent of the women that were killed had scores of 4 or higher, but so did almost 40 percent of the women that were not killed. This finding indicates that practitioners can use the Danger Assessment (like all intimate partner violence risk assessment tools) as a guide in the process rather than as a precise actuarial tool. It also indicates the need for a more precise cutoff score. In safety planning, an abuser's threats with a weapon or threats to kill should be rated as particularly serious, as should a possible murderer's access to a gun. The researchers suggest that the legal prohibition against gun ownership for those convicted of domestic violence is especially important to enforce, and any protection order should include firearms search-and-seizure provisions. 2 figures, 5 notes

Date Published: November 1, 2003