Thursday, June 17, 2010

Domestic Violence Risk - How Safe Are You?

Yesterday I read a news story about a family found dead in their home.  Details were not being released, but I could tell by the way it was written that it was probably a murder by a domestic partner.

Today I read three other similar stories.  One where the neighbors said "police never came to their house."

Sometimes police are never called. 

But when they are, law enforcement authorities are increasingly turning to lists of questions  or "risk assessments" to assess the danger and risks associated with homicides of both batterers and their victims.

Here is an example of questions law enforcement personnel in Raleigh, NC are using. The 14 questions cover violent tendencies, weapons, threats and what a victim is thinking to help determine whether he or she is at a high risk of being killed by a spouse or significant other:

1. Has the physical violence increased in frequency over the past six months or year?

2. Has the physical violence increased in severity over the past six months or year, or have threats been made with a weapon?

3. Does your partner ever try to choke you?

4. Is there a gun in the house?

5. Does your partner threaten to kill you, or do you believe he or she is capable of killing you?

6. Is your partner drunk or high every day or almost every day?

7. Does your partner control most or all of your daily activities (e.g., telling you whom you can be friends with or how much money you can spend)?

8. Has your partner ever beaten you while you were pregnant?

9. Is your partner violently and consistently jealous of you (e.g., he or she says, "If I can't have you, no one can.")?

10. Have you ever thought about, threatened or attempted to commit suicide?

11. Is your partner violent outside the home?

12. Do you plan to leave? Do you have a safety plan in place (i.e., where you will go, a suitcase with extra clothes, keys, important documents, medications, etc.)?

13. What do you think will happen between you and your partner in the near future?

14. Are you expecting a violent attack?

If a person answers yes to three or more questions, they are at a higher risk for death.

If you are reading this, and you are concerned for yourself, or if you are reading this, and you are concerned for someone you care about, please don't wait.  Please reach out.  Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). 

Please don't be named in an article in the newspaper as someone we lost because of domestic violence.


KWG said...

Thank you for posting, Kim. My family used to be in law enforcement and my father, a retired police detective, used to tell me that the most dangerous calls he ever went on as a patrolman were domestic violence calls.

We've already got enough statistics. Folks need to help law enforcement and folks need to get help when in violent situations.

Kim Wells said...

Kevin - thank you for this post. And most of all, thank you for being you.

Larry Kaminer said...

Very useful post Kim. Kevin is right. The stats are in, have been for a long time and speak for themselves. DV for too long has been "someone elses" problem, or the "that type of thing doesn't happen here" type event.
Knowledge and resources amount to empowerment of all involved and this checklist is a great place to start.

Kim Wells said...

Larry - thank you for your thoughts. It means so much to have people (and guys) like you and Kevin taking this so seriously and taking it to heart. And spreading the word...and making a difference.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there are other checklists for earlier detection in the abuse cycle?

Michaela said...

Hello, I am the editor at I frequently search the Internet for quality resources for legal self-help. I have included a teaser to your article with a link back to your blog on Free Legal Aid in the hopes that it will help spread the usefulness of your post and prevent more people from becoming victims of domestic violence. I think readers will definitely benefit from reviewing your Domestic Violence Risk questionnaire.