Each year, more than 3 million women in the United
States are abused by their intimate partners, and more than
1,200 are killed by their abusers. These victims are often
unaware that their lives are in danger prior to the attack.
The newly revised Danger Assessment instrument, developed
by Jacquelyn Campbell, associate dean of the Johns Hopkins
School of Nursing,
is now available online to help women at risk learn their
level of danger and to train domestic violence advocates
and law enforcement and health care professionals in
measuring warning danger levels.
"According to informants who knew the victims, only 47
percent of femicide victims accurately predicted their risk
before the lethal event, and only 53 percent of attempted
femicide victims accurately predicted their risk before the
attempted murder," Campbell said.
Campbell created the first Danger Assessment 25 years
ago to help victims of abuse and the professionals who work
with them to better understand the threats to their safety
and well-being. Campbell revised and updated the assessment
this year to incorporate the findings of recent domestic
violence research and to deliver the mechanism to a wider
audience through a new Web site,
Women who feel they are in danger can download the
Danger Assessment for free. The results are best
interpreted, however, by a person certified to use the DA
scoring system. Criminal justice, health care and advocacy
practitioners who wish to administer the assessment and
interpret the scoring system also may use the Web site to
obtain training and certification.
The assessment begins by giving a woman a calendar on
which she is asked to mark the days when physically abusive
incidents occurred, ranking each incident's severity on a
scale between one and five. This exercise, Campbell said,
can heighten the woman's awareness of her situation and
reduce denial and minimization of the abuse. When the DA
was originally developed, Campbell found that 38 percent of
women who initially reported no increase in severity and
frequency changed their response to yes after filling out
the calendar, she said.
The second part of the assessment asks the woman 20
questions designed to identify danger within the
relationship. Each question addresses a specific behavior
that is a significant predictor to intimate-partner
femicide. The list includes questions such as, "Does he own
a gun?" "Is he an alcoholic or problem drinker?" and "Does
he threaten to harm your children?"
According to Campbell, "Women using the DA can gain a
better understanding of their risk and decrease their
chances of becoming femicide victims. Now that the
assessment is easily accessible to battered women,
advocates and other practitioners," she said, "perhaps some
of those 1,200 murders may be prevented."
Dangerassessment.org is presented through the
Institute for Johns
Hopkins Nursing, the joint initiative of the JHU School
of Nursing and the JHH Department of Nursing formed to
promote and support nursing excellence and to foster
communication and collaboration between nursing education
and nursing practice.