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Tools & Strategies for Assessing Danger or Risk of Lethality

While lethality assessment and risk assessment are overlapping concepts, they do not measure the same thing. The main difference is whether a tool was designed to measure 1) the risk of reoffense/reassault (the likelihood that abuse will occur again, often measured after corrective action has been taken, a.k.a, “recidivism”) or 2) the risk of homicide (the likelihood that a fatality will result). After the general resources provided below, you will find materials related to six leading assessment tools. Each tool includes a notation about the field of intended use, the perspective being evaluated, and an indication of whether the tool assesses reoffense/reassault or lethality risk.

Scaled_EmpowermentProcessModel.jpgThe Empowerment Process Model illustrated here (Bennett Cattaneo & Chapman, 2010) provides a helpful framework for engaging in risk assessment that shifts the focus from prediction to management. Lauren Bennett Cattaneo (2011) suggests that instead of asking, "What are the chances violence will occur?" we should instead ask, "Under what circumstances might violence occur, and how might we change them?" Effective risk assessment practices need to pull prediction into management, give victim voice, and integrate advocate expertise.

risk_assessment_topic.jpgIntegrating Risk Assessment in a Coordinated Community Response from the Battered Women's Justice Project explores the benefits of utilizing risk assessments and reviews the various available tools. It offers considerations and resources to support CCR teams engaging in this process.

Danger Assessment
Intended field: advocates/health professionals
Perspective: victim
Assesses: lethality risk and reassault

LethalityScreenFirstResponders.pngDomestic Violence Lethality Screen for First Responders

In 2003, the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence established a statewide Lethality Assessment Committee. This committee developed an assessment instrument called the Lethality Screen for First Responders(plus a protocol) using the Danger Assessment as a guide (see page 5). The instrument is currently being used by law enforcement in all Maryland counties. When victims (in an intimate partner relationship) screen in on the Lethality Screen as being in High Danger, the officer on the scene calls a domestic violence hotline and encourages the victim to speak with the hotline counselor. If a victim seeks services from a domestic violence program, in addition to normal intake procedures, a program counselor will conduct Dr. Campbell’s Danger Assessment, and the program will provide a range of enhanced services that consider the victim's assessed situation

DVSI-R
Intended field: criminal justice
Perspective: offender
Assesses: reoffense/reassault
MOSAIC Threat Assessment Systems
Intended field: criminal justice
Perspective: victim
Assesses: lethality risk
ODARA (Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment) & DVRAG (Domestic Violence Risk Appraisal Guide)
Intended field: criminal justice & forensic clinicians
Perspective: offender
Assesses: reoffense/reassault

SARA (Spousal Assault Risk Assessment) & B-SAFER
Intended field: criminal justice
Perspective: offender
Assesses: reoffense/reasasult
DASH (Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment and Honour Based Violence) & RIC (Risk Identification Checklist)
Intended field: advocates/human service professionals
Perspective: victim
Assesses: lethality risk