Helping Clients Who Are Being Abused: Statistical risk factors
Pay attention to factors that indicate a higher statistical risk of domestic homicide. The main risk factors are not psychological, but concrete and behavioral:
- Separation (especially if it occurred recently).
- Escalation of abuse.
- Threats (to kill her, the children or himself; to take the children).
- Abuser has access to guns and/or has used weapons in the past.
- Abuser’s use of drugs or alcohol, especially during violent assaults.
- Abuser is depressed or suicidal – this poses a risk to the victim.
- Victim lacks access to sources of assistance and support – either because of the abusers behavior or for other reasons.
The absence of these risk factors does not indicate absence of risk, but their presence means the danger must be taken very seriously. Never make statements, to the victim or anyone else, that minimize the abuser’s potential to inflict serious injury, or indicate that he is no longer dangerous, even if his past offenses have been relatively “low-level.”