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Lethality Indicators

Increasing severity or frequency of abusive incidents

One of the most commonly identified characteristics for increased risk of lethal violence is an uptick in the frequency or severity of abusive incidents. The shift can be sudden and may be accompanied by an increase in serious injuries to the victim. Perpetrators were known to have inflicted serious injury on their victim in 25 percent of the cases reviewed by the Project.

Often when law enforcement responds to abuse, however, there is no significant physical indicator signaling the severity of violence in the relationship. In 75 percent of reviewed cases there was contact with law enforcement about abuse at some point prior to the homicide, in only 23 percent of those incidents was a visible injury documented when law enforcement responded to a domestic violence incident involving the parties.