Risk Assessment, Risk Management, Safety Planning

Risk assessment, management, and safety planning are crucial to reducing exposure to further violence, including homicide, with families experiencing domestic violence. Moreover, risk assessment, management and safety planning needs to be informed by the unique nature of vulnerable individuals and communities.

You can also access online learning related to risk and safety here.

The Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative (CDHPI) strives to: 

  1. Foster collaboration and communication among organizations that work with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence;
  2. Identify missed opportunities for intervention and prevention in prior cases of domestic homicide and develop recommendations aimed at different helping systems to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future; 
  3. Ascertain and analyze best practices for risk assessment, management and safety planning within vulnerable communities.

Key Resources: Risk & Safety

Interagency Case Assessment Team Best Practices: Working Together to Reduce the Risk of Domestic Violence
This manual was developed to guide and support the operation of local high risk domestic violence Interagency Case Assessment Teams (ICATs) in British Columbia.  The manual also helps to enhance collaboration among members of existing ICATs; guide and support communities interested in developing an ICAT; and encourages consistent ICAT practices in different parts of the province.  The manual was developed collaboratively with representatives from criminal justice, child welfare, and community-based anti-violence programs and published through the Ending Violence Association of BC.    

Assessing the Risk of Domestic Violence Offenders
This research summary provides information regarding how to best assess risk of reoffending among domestic violence offenders. The report concluded that the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment guide (SARA) is a useful scale for measuring domestic violence offenders. The SARA is empirically supported and has shown to be moderately accurate at predicting which offenders are more likely to reoffend.

Domestic Violence Risk Assessment: Informing Safety Planning & Risk Management Brief
This is the second Brief in the Domestic Homicide series of the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations (CDHPIVP). This Brief describes domestic violence risk assessment including the reasons for conducting assessments, the nature and kind of risk assessment tools, best practice in domestic violence risk assessment, predictive validity of tools, and the importance of victims’ perceptions of risk. The Brief indicates how domestic violence risk assessment informs risk management with offenders and safety planning with victims/survivors. Finally, the Brief outlines domestic violence risk assessment with particular vulnerable populations.
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Greater Newburyport Domestic Violence High Risk Team: Safety and Accountability Annual Report (2005-2011)
This is a brief report providing an overview of the background of the Greater Newburyport Domestic Violence High Risk Team and the 3-step model they use to intervene in the escalation of violent situations. The 3-step model begins with a risk assessment, followed by an intervention from a multi-disciplinary team, and concludes with ongoing monitoring and containment. The report also includes a breakdown of domestic violence statistics in Greater Newburyport from 2005-2011.

Intimate Partner Violence Risk Assessment Tools: A Review
This report is a comprehensive review of various intimate partner violence risk assessment tools. The report provides information regarding the use of risk assessment tools in situations of intimate partner violence, as well as the types of assessment tools available and their approaches, strengths and limitations.

Intimate Partner Violence Risk Assessment Validation Study
This report assesses the predictive accuracy of the Danger Assessment (DA), the Threat Assessment Method (DV-MOSAIC), the Domestic Violence Screening Instrument (DVSI), and the Kingston Screening Instrument for Domestic Violence (K-SID) in assessing risk of repeat assault or potential lethality in domestic violence cases. The results concluded that, for the most part, the majority of the aforementioned assessments have strong psychometric properties. However, if available, additional information should be considered when making decisions regarding a victim’s safety.

Keeping Women Alive- Assessing the Danger
This report investigates the utilization of the Danger Assessment tool in Alberta with the purpose of informing women’s shelter practices, providing evidence-based research to community stakeholders, and piloting a train-the-trainer model. The report provides a number of recommendations on how to enhance the safety of women and children who are involved with women’s shelters in Alberta.

Lessons Learned from Domestic Violence Tragedies: Emerging Research, Policies, and Practices to Prevent Domestic Homicides
This paper summarizes key ideas and recommendations from a national think tank on the prevention of domestic homicides. The think-tank brought together 39 practitioners, researchers, and government officials representing Canada from coast to coast. The purpose of this discussion paper is to reflect on the current research, policy, and practices across Canada that have been directed at preventing domestic homicides and provides a framework for future directions.

Lethality Assessment Tools: A Critical Analysis
This report is a critical analysis of the use and effectiveness of lethality assessment tools. The author analyzed several assessment tools, and applied them to domestic homicide research to determine their usefulness. Ultimately the researcher concluded that these assessments would most appropriately be used as methods for evaluating future dangerousness, as opposed to predicting lethal outcomes.

ProActive Resolutions: Release of the SARA-V3
ProActive Resolutions: The SARA-V3 is the latest version of the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide (SARA), developed by Drs. Randall Kropp and Stephen Hart. The SARA is a set of structured professional judgement guidelines for the assessment and management of risk for intimate partner violence (IPV). The SARA provides evaluators with a systematic, standardized, and practical framework for gathering and considering information when making decisions about IPV risk. It is designed to help evaluators exercise their best judgment. The SARA has been extensively evaluated and is being used in over 15 countries spanning 5 continents.

Recognizing and Responding to Risk Factors for Domestic Homicide in New Brunswick
This is a presentation created by Dr. Deborah Doherty outlining the areas surrounding risk factors for domestic homicide. The presentation includes an overview of the risk factors associated with New Brunswick domestic homicides and murder-suicides, a comparison of the differences between rural and urban experiences of abuse, and an exploration into unique rural-based solutions.

Reducing Recidivism in Domestic Violence Cases
This report provides an overview of the literature available on domestic violence recidivism; evaluates the risk assessment tools available to predict recidivism; as analyzes and discusses recidivism data related to incidents of domestic violence in western Canada. The results concluded that a number of risk factors for recidivism exist including mental illness, a history of complaints by the victim, and violations of no-contact orders. Furthermore, the researchers recommend the use of risk assessment tools that can be used by police officers, particularly those that provide certification through one-day training.

Risk Assessment, Risk Management & Safety Planning Knowledge Exchange
This paper summarizes the presentations and discussions that arose out of the Risk Assessment, Risk Management and Safety Planning Knowledge Exchange that took place on October 17-19, 2012 in London, Ontario.  The purpose of the knowledge exchange was to bring together professionals from across the country who work in the violence against women sector to begin a national dialogue that would also help facilitate the development of a national strategy to examine, address, and share the issues, challenges, and best practices in the area of risk assessment, risk management and safety planning among cases of domestic violence.  Topics include: domestic violence death review; an overview of domestic violence risk assessment; collaborative risk assessment within a system context; recognizing children at risk for domestic homicides; risk assessment with vulnerable populations; risk management; safety planning; and developing a blue print for a national strategy.

Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From a Multisite Case Control Study
This paper identifies risk factors for lethality for women living with domestic violence. The researchers interviewed 220 proxies of victims of intimate partner femicide/homicide, as well as 343 abused women. Common risk factors identified were the perpetrator’s access to a firearm, previous threats with a weapon, perpetrator’s stepchild in the home, and separation/estrangement. Additional risk factors are identified and discussed.

Safety Planning Across Culture & Community: A Guide for Front Line Violence Against Women Responders
This guide was developed to help professionals who support survivors of woman abuse broaden their approach to safety planning by including more specific factors and considerations relevant to women with differing social locations.  The guide outlines: 1) general risk identification and safety planning with women who are victims of violence in an intimate relationship; 2) risk identification with women across culture; immigrant and refugee women; older women; sex workers; younger women; women with disabilities; lesbian, bisexual, and queer women; and trans people; and 3) resources available to survivors of woman abuse.  The guide was created by the Community Coordination for Women’s Safety and the Ending Violence Association of BC.

The Western Australian Family and Domestic Violence Common Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework
This manual outlines the Western Australian Family and Domestic Violence Common Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework. The manual includes a background of the framework, a history of risk assessment, key information service providers need to be aware of when screening or assessing family and domestic violence, supportive legislation of integrated responses to manage risk and improve safety, and a guide for family and domestic violence screening and risk assessment.

Threat Assessment and Risk Management in Domestic Violence Cases: An Overview of Ontario Justice and Community Collaboration for 2010 and Future Directions
In 2010, the Centre for Research and Education on Violence against Women and Children (CREVAWC) hosted a conference entitled “Reducing the risk for lethal violence: Collaboration in threat assessment and risk management.” The purpose of the conference was to initiate more dialogue with community and justice partners around the issues of threat assessment, risk management, and collaboration among systems. Two hundred and eighty-six people attended the conference and represented justice, community, and government sectors. The conference was funded by the Ontario Women’s Directorate. This paper summarizes the discussions at this conference on the challenges of collaborating on risk management, solutions to the barriers of information sharing, and potential actions plans to enhance collaboration on risk management and threat assessment in different jurisdictions.

Tools help police prevent domestic abuse; Domestic Assault Risk Assessment evaluates likelihood of future violence
In March, police services are introducing the Domestic Violence Risk Management Screening tool, an improved Domestic Violence Supplementary Report Form created years ago by the Ministry of the Solicitor General and OPP.

Training Needs of Community Professionals Involved in Threat Assessment and Risk Management in Domestic Violence Cases: Feedback from an Ontario Multidisciplinary Forum
This is a brief report highlighting the feedback received from the forum titled “Reducing the Risk of Lethal Violence: Collaboration in Threat Assessment and Risk Management: From Theory to Practice.” The feedback was collected in the form of a survey, and assessed whether or not the information provided in the forum was helpful in changing practices in communities regarding threat assessment and risk management.

WAYPOINT Centre for Mental Health Care – Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) e-learning program
Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene, Ontario offers an interactive e-learning program for assessors to learn to use the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) tool.  The ODARA is an actuarial risk assessment tool was created by the Research Department at Waypoint in collaboration with the Ontario Provincial Police Behavioural Sciences and Analysis Section and the Research Department at Waypoint.  The ODARA assesses the risk of re-assault for men who have abused their intimate partners.  Professionals who work with perpetrators and/or victims of woman abuse can use the ODARA.  The interactive e-learning program provides the research background and validations of the ODARA; detailed scoring instructions; and practice cases.  The program takes 4-6 hours to complete and is free for Ontario agencies responding to intimate partner violence.