DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - DANGEROUSNESS ASSESSMENT
GUIDE FOR THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
It is most certainly impossible to always predict when a domestic violence abuser will brutally assault or murder. It is also true that all domestic violence abusers maintain the potential for abuse, brutal
assault and/or other life threatening behavior. However, there are variables that can demonstrate which abusers maintain a much higher potential for brutal assault and life threatening violence.
The majority of empirical scientific evidence and data document that abusers who are chronic offenders inflict by far the majority of injurious physical and/or sexually assaults. A Massachusetts study
documents that 91 percent of chronic offenders have a history of criminal behavior and 65 percent of chronic offenders have a history of violent criminal/delinquent
court appearances. Approximately 25 percent chronic offenders have as many as 8 different victims.
The majority of states have statutory provisions for holding, without bail, offenders who if released
present heightened presence of danger to the community. Massachusetts passed, with great fanfare not many years ago, just such a provision. In Massachusetts, a less than scientific study reveals that
these dangerousness hearings are held for less than one percent of domestic violence and/or restraining order violations. While no dangerous hearing or risk assessment variables are perfect, it is be more
dangerousness for the criminal justice system to do nothing.
The likelihood of future brutal assault and/or life threatening violence is greater when the below
variables are present in the chronic offender. Beatings, batterings, and perhaps even lives may be saved if these hearings are held before chronic offenders are released after court appearances.
1. Firearms: The use, threatened use, or possession of firearms increases the potential for a swift and lethal assault.
2.Physical Assaults: Past physical assaults and in particular physical assaults while the
victim is pregnant.
3. Repeated Outreach: To the police, others in the criminal justice system, or domestic/victims rights
advocates from either the abuser, the victim, or the children.
4. Depression Concerning Separation: Where abusers are display bouts of depression
concerning losing their spouse/partner and/or children.
5. "Ownership/Entitlement Of The Spouse/Partner: Abusers who believe that their
spouse/partner/children "belong" to them. Abusers who believe that their spouse/partner/children owe them obedience and loyalty. Abusers who believe that they must get "their way."
6. Obsessive Jealously/Love/Need: Abusers who believe they or their spouse/partner can not or should not live without each other.
7.Threats of Homicide or Suicide: Abusers who threaten to kill themselves, their
spouse/partner/children, other family members, or strangers.
8. Excessive drug/alcohol use: When either or both the abuser and/or victim drink to intoxication 2 or 3 times a week.
9. Forced Sex: When the abusers forces sex on their spouse/partner against their will.
10. Escalation Of Risk: The escalation of risk undertaken by an abuser with little to no regard for legal or social consequences.
These assessment variables are intended only to be a guide and they do not present empirically based scientific fact that when two or more of these variables are present violence will occur. They are
intended to heighten the awareness. This assessment only demonstrates and/or documents variables that may identify increased risks of the possibility of imminent repeat spousal/partner violence.
However, when the above variables are present and the abuser has a history of criminal violent behavior some studies document the repeat abuse will occur 84 percent of the time. To arrest these
chronic abusers and then to release them into the community without a dangerousness hearing before the are tried, sanctioned or placed in a batterers program may very well be abuse of another kind.
Copyright © 2001 Richard L. Davis
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