Lethality Assessment

Are you in danger?

All battering is dangerous; one push or shove could result in death. Battering increases in frequency and severity over time. Certain behaviors, actions and words by an abuser, however, indicate particular danger to you. If you see any of these in your abuser, you should know that your relationship could become deadly.

Signs to look for:

  • Threatens suicide or homicide – if he says he will kill himself, understand that this likely means he will kill you as well.
  • Fantasies of homicide or suicide – If he sees this as a “solution” to his problems, he may attempt it. Beware of your abuser threatening to kill himself. Usually, it means he plans to kill you first.
  • Possesses weapons – if your abuser owns weapons and has used them or threatened to use them in the past, he has a potential for lethal assault. The use of guns is a strong predictor of homicide.
  • Ownership issues – if your abuser believes you “belong” to him, or “death before divorce” he is more likely to be life endangering. Idolizes you – if your abuser idolizes you, or depends heavily on you to sustain him, and has isolated himself from others, it is likely he will retaliate against you if you decide to end the relationship.
  • Separation violence – if your abuser believes you will leave him, and can’t imagine life without you, he may try to kill you. Many homicides occur when a woman is leaving her abusive partner. Please understand how dangerous this time is. Seventy-five percent of women are seriously injured when they leave or try to leave an abusive relationship.
  • Escalating danger – when your batterer begins to act more and more as if he has no regard for the consequences of his actions, legal or otherwise, you are at extremely increased risk of danger.

Barbara Kidd, National Domestic Violence Prevention Trainer