Domestic violence homicides are one of the most predictable, therefore preventable, types of crimes. Some of the factors that may indicate you are at high risk include the following:
history of domestic violence;
increased severity or frequency of violence;
strangulation (or choking);
threats to kill the victim or children;
threats or use of a weapon;
unemployment of abusive party;
victim believes abusive party is capable of killing them;
recent separation of parties;
abusive party controls much of victim's daily activities.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. I cannot stress the importance of speaking to a qualified professional about your situation. Hotlines are free and anonymous, and can refer you to a local domestic violence program.
What to do if you think you may be at risk
If you think you or a loved one is at risk in their relationship, you should immediately speak to an experienced advocate or attorney. They can help you assess your case and strategize on ways to increase your safety. If you are considering leaving the relationship, please make sure to talk to someone first. Often times, leaving the relationship is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence. The advocate/attorney can help you explore all options, including obtaining a restraining order or reporting the case to the police. Any conversations you have with the advocate/attorney are confidential and the decision how to proceed is entirely up to you.
Innovative strategies to address high risk cases
Many communities are working together to address high risk cases. In Newburyport, MA, they created a multidisciplinary team of advocates, law enforcement and other social service providers that work collaboratively to asses and intervene in high risk cases in the community. Some of the tools used to increase victim safety include using GPS technology to monitor high risk domestic violence offenders. Many other states are implementing laws to use GPS in dv cases.
Additional resources provided by the author
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE; Massachusetts Statewide Hotline 1-877-785-2020. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.