Factors in Assessing Risks

Partly adapted from material prepared by Anne L. Ganley, PhD, for the Family Violence Prevention Fund

  • History of violent behavior
    • Generally, prior violence is the best predictor of future violence. Offenders with prior domestic violence or assault and battery arrests are at a high risk of re-offending.
    • prior restraining orders
    • criminal record
    • frequency/severity of abuse in current and past intimate relationships
    • violence towards others outside of intimate relationship
    • threats to kill others or self
  • Perpetrator's access to victim
  • Perpetrator's state of mind
    • obsession with victim
    • increased risk-taking by perpetrator
    • ignoring consequences
    • depression
    • desperation
  • Individual factors that reduce behavioral controls of perpetrator
    • substance abuse
    • certain medications
    • evidence of a serious mental disorder, such as paranoid schizophenia or bipolar disorder
    • brain damage
  • Situational factors
    • increased autonomy of victim/separation of victim
    • presence of other stressors (e.g., recent loss, job loss)
    • access to weapons
    • past failures of the system to respond appropriately
  • If the perpetrator is your client, and you have reason to believe that a particular other person is at risk of serious harm from your client, you may be legally obliged to take action for the victim's protection. In such a case, it is important that you seek consultation. See Unit 4 for the legal requirements.