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What Factors Should my Assessment Consider?

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Domestic violence comes in many shapes and sizes. Before effective counseling or treatment can take place, an assessment needs to be done on both persons experiencing the violence.

Persons who provide counseling, treatment, or other intervention services for domestic violence victims and/or offenders need to obtain information about the pattern and triggers of the abuse:

  • Severity
  • Duration
  • Frequency
  • Pattern (one-way vs. reciprocal violence)
  • Types of abusive behavior
  • Substance abuse
  • Personality factors
  • Interpersonal skill deficits
  • Strengths of each person


In addition, it is helpful to obtain information from other family members, medical records, and law enforcement reports.

Some of these structured assessment tools may also be helpful, provided they are used to supplement the information obtained during the in-person interview:

  • Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS-2)
  • Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide (SARA)
  • Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA)
  • Danger Assessment (DA)
  • Domestic Violence Screening Inventory (DVSI)
  • Propensity for Abusiveness Scale (PAS)
  • Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG)


(1) Nicholls TL, Desmarais SL, Douglas KS, Kropp PR. Violence risk assessments with perpetrators of intimate partner abuse. In Hamel J and Nicolls (eds.): Family Violence Interventions in Domestic Violence. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 2007.

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