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Domestic Violence (cont.)

Determining Risk

If you are experiencing domestic violence, you may call a doctor whenever you think you require evaluation and treatment of acute injury, medical complaints resulting from chronic stress, or psychiatric illness. In addition, a doctor may help you assess your safety and access community resources. Community resources may include various health-care agencies, law enforcement, and community groups. This is potentially a very dangerous time, because requesting help from others may put you at increased risk because the anger of the batterer may escalate due to a perceived loss of control on his or her part. In view of this, you should determine the appropriate time for others to intervene in an abusive relationship.

A situation in which you may seek outside assistance is when you perceive an increasing risk to you and your children. Doctors and other professionals use two tools to help determine your risk. They are the Lethality Checklist and the Physical Abuse Ranking Scale. Although every abusive relationship is different, your scores on these scales may help you to decide how risky your current situation has become.

  • Lethality Checklist: Count the items that apply to your current relationship. The higher the number of items from this list, the greater your danger potential.
    • Objectifies you (calls you names, body parts, animals)
    • Blames you for injuries
    • Is unwilling to turn you loose
    • Is obsessed with you
    • Is hostile, angry, or furious
    • Appears distraught
    • Is extremely jealous, blaming you for all types of promiscuous behavior
    • Has been involved in previous incidents of significant violence
    • Has killed pets
    • Has made threats
    • Has made previous suicide attempts
    • Is threatening suicide
    • Has access to you
    • Has access to guns
    • Uses alcohol
    • Uses amphetamines, cocaine, or other drugs
    • Has thoughts of hurting you
    • Has no desire to stop violent or controlling behavior
    • Has a relationship with you that is extremely tense and volatile
  • Physical Abuse Ranking Scale: The scale depicts increasing risk with increasing number ('1' representing low risk and '9' highest risk). Any violent act greater than 5 on this scale indicates a high danger potential.
    1. Throwing things, punching the wall
    2. Pushing, shoving, grabbing, throwing things at you
    3. Slapping with an open hand
    4. Kicking, biting
    5. Hitting with closed fists
    6. Attempted strangulation
    7. Beating up, pinning to the wall or floor, repeated kicks and punches
    8. Threatening with a weapon
    9. Assault with a weapon

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