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Chicago Women's Health Risk Study: Risk of Serious Injury or Death in Intimate Violence: A Collaborative Research Project

NCJ Number
Date Published
361 pages
To help a broad array of practitioners identify women at greatest risk, the Chicago Women's Health Risk Study (CWHRS) explored factors indicating significant danger of death or life threatening injury in intimate violence situations.
A collaboration of medical, public health, and criminal justice agencies and domestic violence advocates, the CWHRS compared longitudinal interviews with physically abused women sampled at hospitals and health centers with similar interviews with people who knew intimate partner homicide victims. The study was based on an analysis of lethal and non-lethal samples tracked through interviews over a profile year, plus a baseline comparison group of non-abused women. Retrospective profile years for the lethal sample, 87 people killed by an intimate partner in 1995 or 1996 in Chicago, were obtained by interviews with a knowledgeable relative or friend. The 497 physically abused women were sampled from populations of hospital health clinics who were interviewed about a retrospective profile year and were then tracked by prospective interviews over a year. The 208 comparison women, not physically abused in the past year, were sampled from the same settings. Findings indicated that leaving or trying to end a relationship placed women in a position in which the potential for increased safety was high but the potential for extreme risk was also high. The relationship between leaving or attempting to end the situation and the timing of violence differed for women at different points in the abuse process. Women who experienced severe violence in the past year and who were making active efforts to obtain formal interventions to stop the violence were at higher risk for continued severe violence. A significant risk factor for continuing violence was the length of time since the last incident. Almost all women who experienced severe violence in the past year had sought help from at least one type of resource. Detailed findings are presented with respect to characteristics of fatal incidents, weapons, and the availability of medical help. Appendixes contain information on agencies involved in the CWHRS, study forms, and interview procedures. References, endnotes, and tables

Date Published: January 1, 2000