History of physical and/or non-physical domestic violence
Without question, past behaviors remain the most accurate indicators of future risk. For that reason, a prior history of domestic violence remains a red flag for potential lethality in abusive relationships. Perpetrators are known to employ a wide variety of techniques in their attempts to maintain power and control over victims. When some types of abuse are present in the history of the relationship, there is a higher association with lethal violence.
In 91 percent of cases reviewed by the Project, there was a known history of physical and/or non-physical domestic violence between the victim and perpetrator prior to the fatal incident. National research has yielded similar findings, showing at least two-thirds of women killed by an abusive partner were battered prior to a fatal incident (Campbell, 2017). A perpetrator’s use of violence in his past relationships may also be tied to potential risk for current or future victims. In 26 percent of cases reviewed by the Project, the perpetrator was known to have been abusive to at least one prior partner.
Victims in cases reviewed by the Project experienced physical abuse which included being hit or slapped in the face or body, being grabbed by the neck, handcuffed to a bed, kicked, pinned down, having a gun pulled on them or held to their head, having a bullet shot into a surface next to them, having their hair pulled, being pushed down stairs or into a wall, being spit on, and having their teeth knocked out. In 21 percent of cases reviewed by the Project, the abuser was known to perpetrate sexual violence in the relationship. Documented injuries to victims, as noted in police incident reports, included bruises, cuts and contusions, head injuries, busted lips, bloody noses, broken bones, neck injuries due to strangulation, red marks on shoulders, burning caused by a foreign substance, and stab wounds.