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Lethality Indicators

Prior threats to kill, or threats which involve weapons

Abusers do not have to use physical force against a victim to be dangerous; threatening to kill the victim, especially with a weapon, can increase lethality. Making threats to kill the victim is a common tactic used by abusers to obtain or maintain power and control in the relationship. This tactic should also be considered a clear indicator of increased risk for potential lethal violence. In incidents reviewed by the Project, perpetrators were known to have made prior threats to kill the victim in 55 percent of circumstances.

Threats to cause harm to the victim using a weapon were also very common, with victims experiencing these threats in 38 percent of cases reviewed by the Project. While firearms pose a particularly significant threat to intimate partners, threats to use weapons of any type should be seen as a risk factor for potentially lethal violence. In cases reviewed by the Project, the perpetrator had previously harmed the victim with a weapon in 12 percent of cases.