Lethality Assessments for Domestic Violence: A Look at How a Simple Questionnaire Could Save Lives

Lethality Assessments for Domestic Violence: A Look at How a Simple Questionnaire Could Save Lives
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-08-19
Unit 1Slide Deck: Lethality Assessments for Domestic Violence
Unit 2Transcript: Lethality Assessments for Domestic Violence
Unit 3Workbook: Lethality Assessments for Domestic Violence
Unit 4Recording: Lethality Assessments for Domestic Violence

Domestic violence (DV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) are quite problematic. There’s the relationship between the victim and the abuser which makes the victim reluctant to report. The justice system typically requires the victim to testify against an abuser despite awareness of the power and control element in these cases. Given these, victims end up staying in abusive relationships. Law enforcement and victim advocates play a critical role in ensuring victims are connected to resources to keep them safe and preventing situations where it’s too late to intervene.

This session’s resource speaker is Chris Jones. Chris is currently the training supervisor at the 3M Program, the creator and host of the Commander Podcast, and an adjunct faculty at the collegiate level. He’s trained thousands of law enforcement officers domestically and internationally on various law enforcement topics.

Specifics of this webinar include:

  • The prevalence of DV/IPV and the dynamics that make it difficult to make offenders accountable and get victims the assistance they need.
  • How Lethality Assessment Programs (LAP) aim to address the goals to deter offending and connect victims with resources.
  • A glimpse into the Danger Assessment that served as the precursor of the Lethality Assessment.
  • The disconnect between the reality that DV/IPV is the most frequent and most dangerous law enforcement calls for service and the lack of efforts to curb DV/IPV.
  • The problem with solely relying on the victim’s testimony to convict a DV/IPV case when criminal justice and related agencies can serve as the victim’s voice for these.
  • Research findings that show how victim advocacy services aren’t maximized by DV/IPV victims, how DV/IPV tends to be an ongoing and escalating issue, and how providing assistance to victims prevents further harm.
  • A primer on the creation, framework, and scoring system of the Lethality Assessment tool.
    • The questionnaire and how the answers determine the risk rating and protocol referral.
    • How the questions included are not the typical ones an officer may ask in the scene but provides valuable insights on the condition of the victim.
    • Managing victims who refuse to provide information that may incriminate the abuser.
  • The reality that not all victims will be forthcoming when they’re informed that they’re high-risk and must be referred to an advocate, and how to overcome this through a trauma-informed approach.
  • How connecting a victim with an advocate saves multiple lives – the victims, those who respond to the repeat DV/IPV calls, and others within the household that are also being abused or witnessing abuse.
  • Examples of independent researches conducted that support LAP and its benefits.
    • The 2014 Oklahoma Study’s findings on the assessment’s effectiveness in predicting high-risk situations, the victim’s willingness to seek help and participate in the legal process, factors relating to the victim’s safety, and even satisfaction in police response.
    • The 2017 Connecticut Study that demonstrated the significant number of high-risk victims who were able to utilize victim advocate services through LAP and the conditions that put the victims at high risk based on the questionnaire.
  • Predictors of a victim’s likelihood to participate in LAP based on the severity of the violence preceding the screening and the presence of PTSD symptoms.
  • Barriers from successfully utilizing LAP due to organizational culture, inadequate training, lack of support from leadership and collaborative relationships with resources, and refusal to implement changes.
  • Ways that an agency can modify the LAP based on its policies and needs.

Topics raised in the Q&A were about:

  • Convincing leaders to implement LAP by considering the liability aspect.
  • Using the Lethality Assessment questionnaire outside of law enforcement.
  • Tips to implement LAP by getting leadership buy-in, coordinating with the advocacy services, and training the officers not just on the what but the why of the program.
  • Working and training with advocacy organizations.
  • How the questionnaire did not quite address or capture the link between domestic violence and animal cruelty.


Other Webinars with this Speaker


Resources and Handouts

Audience Comments

  • “Ideas on how to get my local law enforcement to use the LAP. Thank you! I enjoyed Dr. Jones, he made me chuckle a few times lol.” — Jodi
  • “The most valuable thing I learned from this webinar is the importance of the LAP screening in preventing homicide or lethality. This screening tool could not only be used by law enforcement but also other agencies that come across domestic violence victims.” — Anifatu
  • “I appreciated looking at the statistics of IPV and seeing how effective the LAP has been for others.” — Alejandra
  • “The assessment will be very useful in my agency.” — Callie
  • “I was especially interested in how to persuade an agency to use this form. It was a great webinar and I appreciate all that Justice Clearinghouse does to make these possible. Thank you.” — Denise
  • “I loved that the webinar was also directed at advocates. Most of them I feel are more for law enforcement or first responders.” — Jennifer
  • “The trainer was engaging and provided a lot of useful tips on how to gain buy-in with law enforcement and victims. The stats provide were very beneficial.” — Mindi


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