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Violence and Abuse

Risk Assessment: How Dangerous is My Situation

All battering is dangerous. However, certain factors, such as the batterer's possession of weapons, extreme possessiveness or controlling behavior, or use of drugs and alcohol, can mean that you are at extreme risk. The following are risk assessment guidelines to help you or anyone working with you.

 Question  Sample Answer
   Medium Risk  High Risk  Extreme Risk
1. Does the batterer have or have easy access to a gun or a knife? Has he ever used it? “No.” “He has a rifle but he has never threatened me with it.” “He’s threatened me with a gun.”
“He was arrested once for cutting someone.”
2. Has the batterer ever been arrested before? Is he afraid of police and the courts? “No.” “Police came once but they didn’t do anything.” "He has been arrested for assault."
"Police make him even more angry."
3. Has the batterer tried to control your life and isolate you from friends and family?” “Not really.” “He always notices if I am home late and is very jealous.”
“He doesn’t like my friends coming here.”
“He acts like my prison guard.”
“He is insanely jealous and imagines the most bizarre things; he even keeps tabs on the mileage on my car.”
4. Has the batterer hurt your children? (This only assesses risk to the children; some batterers are dangerous only to their partners.) “He’s never laid a hand on the kids.” “He hasn’t so far, but I can see it coming; he’s started threatening.”
“He really hurt my son when he got in between us.”
“He really hurt the dog once, that made me worry about the kids.”
“He threatens he will hurt the kids if I ever leave him.”
“He forces my daughter to let him touch her.”
“He beats us both.”
5. Has the batterer threatened you if you try to leave? “He hasn’t made any threats, in fact once he locked me out and told me to leave.” “He said he would get even if I ever left…I am not sure what she meant.”  “He said I could never hide from him, he’d track me down somehow. I really believe that he would do it.”
6. Have you ever tried to leave? What happened? “He didn’t seem to care. In fact, I think he was glad to have us out of his hair.” “I went to my mother’s; he kept calling, begging for one more chance.”
“He tore up all my clothes.”
“He came after me and beat me worse than ever.”
“He attacked the person I was staying with. I can’t figure out how he found me.”
7. Does the batterer have extra resources at his command to find you if you leave? “Not that I know of.”
“Our town is so small, anyone could find me.”
“He’s got a friend who’s a cop; I don’t know if he’d talk to him about me.”
“He’s my pimp and has criminal friends who would do anything.”
“He’s a private investigator.”
“He is high up in social services and real tied in with city government.”
“I don’t have a Green Card and he said he would turn me in.”
8. Does the batterer know your routine? “I’ve only dated him a short time; he does not know where my kids go to school.” “He knows where I work, but I’ve requested a transfer.” “We have lived together 15 years; he knows everything.”
“I’m blind and he knows all the local readers and everyone with the van service.”
9. Does the batterer ask you to engage in sexual acts you don’t feel comfortable with? “He pressures me for sex and might take a tantrum if I say no, but he never forces me.” “He changes when we have sex. He gets aggressive.” “He mostly rapes me.”
“He is very violent.”
“He makes me perform sexual acts in front of others.”
10. Does the batterer drink or do drugs? (Alcohol and drugs alone do not cause violence but they can worsen a bad situation) “He does not drink very much.”
“He says he does not know what he is doing.”
“He uses being drunk as an excuse for pushing me around.” “He is addicted to crack and it is making him paranoid.”
“He becomes very violent when drunk, crazy out of control.”
11. Does the batterer seem suicidal? (Most suicidal people are not violent toward others, but suicidal batterers sometimes kill other family members before turning the weapon on themselves) “I have never heard talk of suicide.”  “He said that he can’t live without me and that he’d kill himself if I ever left.” “He’s talked a great deal about suicide, but then he’ll say that he is not going out without taking me with him.” “Once he forced me to play this game of Russian roulette with him.”
12. Does the batterer seem crazy to you? (Mentally ill people are not more likely than “normal” people to be violent; however, violent people who lose their sense of realistic consequences may become very dangerous.) “He is normal if you can call anyone who beats his family normal.” “He is really changing; he’s getting more withdrawn and skipping work and becoming obsessed with hanging around me.” “He has really lost it.”
“He says I am Satan and must be stopped.”

Written by: Margaret Lazarus with Renner Wunderlich, Diane Rosenfeld, and Stacey Kabat.
Last revised: March 2005

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