Research has found that the use of a good assessment tool is crucial to help identify possible dangerous situations. The Domestic Violence Death Review Committee states that without an adequate assessment tool when trying to identify the potential danger level of an abusive situation, there may be the possibility that the victim may be placed in greater danger by not providing a safety plan that reflects the seriousness of the situation.
It is important to remember that many women do not realize the danger they are in. Some think that they can handle the situation and do not understand how lethal the situation can become. It is important to remember that according to the Stats Canada report, only one third of abuse is reported to the police. They also state that most women reporting domestic violence have been abused before by their partner.
There are several reasons that have been identified why women stay. Some of the reasons are fear and fear of the abuser. Poverty is another reason, fear that they may have no other alternatives and no other means of support. They have lack of awareness of the help that may be available to them and their families. In the past, women stayed for the children. Today, due to the general public gaining and understanding of the negative effects of domestic violence, they are now choosing to leave the abusive situation in the hopes to raise their children in a more positive environment.
If your service is providing a service for victims of violence you must understand the importance of being trained to adequately assess to try to determine the level of danger the victim may be facing. One has to know that this may be the only opportunity to have some kind of intervention. Remember, only one third of the abuse is reported to the police. These women may only reach out once. This may be the only opportunity you have to explain the level of danger she is placing herself and her children in by returning. She must be given the right tools she needs to make an informed decision.
As a service provider that may come in contact with these victims it is important that your staff be equipped with the knowledge and training in intimate partner violence and capable of applying the right assessment tool. There are several examples of risk assessment tools. It is important to be trained and certified on how to use them and understand the limitations these tools may have,
Here are some risk assessment tools available to you:
- Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women & Children
- Danger Assessment
- Domestic Violence Death Review Committee
- The MOSAIC
- Red Flags
- Risk Assessment for General Assault and Partner Abusers
Note: This project recommends that all services dealing with victim or potential victims of abuse, be certified in risk assessment.
For a man who has assaulted his intimate partner, a risk assessment can have considerable influence on the responses of police, courts, probation officers and treatment providers. Perhaps most importantly, a risk assessment influences the response and decisions of his victim.
Going through a risk assessment with a woman may help her to think through her situation and make decisions about what she needs to do. If a woman chooses to remain in the same situation help her to explore ways of maximizing safety. Here are some Inventory of Spousal Violence Risk Assessment Tools Used in Canada that may help assess her current situation.