How to Assess the Danger of a Fatality by an Abuser


Domestic Violence Advocates have a great tool at their disposal. It is called the Danger Assessment Instrument. Once trained, an advocate can help an abuse victim discern whether she is in imminent danger of being killed by her abuser. Of course, nothing is fool-proof, but this instrument will help a woman see how many risk factors of homicide apply to her situation. Let me describe it for you.

First, the advocate gives the victim a calendar for the last year. Then, the victim marks the approximate dates during the past year when her partner physically abused her. She uses the following scale:

  1. Slapping, pushing; no injuries and/or lasting pain.

  2. Punching, kicking; bruises, cuts, and/or continuing pain.

  3. “Beating up”; sever contusions, burns, broken bones.

  4. Threat to use weapon; head injury, internal injury, permanent injury.

  5. Use of weapon; wounds from weapon.

Once she has filled in the calendar, she must answer 20 questions. Here are a few of them:

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

  2. Does he own a gun?

  3. Has he ever used a weapon against you, or threatened you with a lethal weapon?

  4. Does he threaten to kill you? (Does he say those actual words?)

  5. Has he ever threatened or tried to commit suicide? (This is dangerous because he will likely kill you first, then himself).

  6. Does he ever try to choke you?

There are many more. If some of these questions resonate with you, I urge you to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224. If you are not in the United States, you may find domestic violence hotline numbers and websites from every country in the world, in your own language at .

Often, when an abused woman goes through the exercise of filling in a year’s worth of abuse, she becomes more aware of the danger she is in. She can then see whether her abuse has gotten more frequent or more violent in the last year. And, she will be less likely to remain in denial about what is happening to her if she sees it in her own writing.

I am thankful to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) for offering this training to those at their conference last summer. I was able to take the course, and become certified in it. If you are interested in becoming certified, you can reach their website by clicking here. The cost for the on-line course is $125, and the certification costs another $25. If you are an abused woman, and are concerned your life might be in danger, I again urge you to contact a Domestic Violence Hotline and speak with an advocate.

I close with a psalm of David, who spent much of his young manhood being chased by King Saul in the desert:

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;

    he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

    out of the mud and mire;

he set my feet on a rock

    and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,

    a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear the Lord

    and put their trust in him.

4 Blessed is the one

    who trusts in the Lord,

who does not look to the proud,

    to those who turn aside to false gods.

5 Many, Lord my God,

    are the wonders you have done,

    the things you planned for us.

None can compare with you;

    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,

    they would be too many to declare.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;

    may your love and faithfulness always protect me.

12 For troubles without number surround me;

    my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.

They are more than the hairs of my head,

    and my heart fails within me.

13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;

    come quickly, Lord, to help me.

14 May all who want to take my life

    be put to shame and confusion;

may all who desire my ruin

    be turned back in disgrace.

15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”

    be appalled at their own shame.

16 But may all who seek you

    rejoice and be glad in you;

may those who long for your saving help always say,

    “The Lord is great!”

17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;

    may the Lord think of me.

You are my help and my deliverer;

    you are my God, do not delay.

Psalm 40:1-5, 11 – 17

Let’s pray. Lord, please be with anyone who is being abused today. Give her Your strength, and Your courage, please Lord. Bring Your angels around her for her protection. Give her opportunities to talk to those who would help her in her situation. Most of all, Lord, let her know that You will never leave her, nor forsake her. Amen.


May the Lord bless you all,



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