Factors affecting risk


  • Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Network, & Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. (2022) Domestic and family violence lethality: Updated facts about intimate partner homicide (Fact sheet).
  • Family Court of Australia, Family Violence Best Practice Principles, 4th edition (2016)

    The Best Practice Principles are applicable in all cases involving family violence or child abuse (or the risk of either) in proceedings before courts exercising jurisdiction under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cmth), and provide useful background information for decision makers, legal practitioners and individuals involved in these cases including an explanation of the definition of ‘family violence’ and ‘abuse’ under the Family Law Act and the different types of violence and abuse.

    The Best Practice Principles recognise:

    • the harmful effects of family violence and abuse on victims
    • the prominence given to the issue of family violence in the Family Law Act, and
    • the principles guiding the case management system for the disposition of cases involving allegations of abuse of children.

    Section C deals with the interim hearing stage and introduces the 'PPP' screening tool as a useful mechanism in the assessment of risk. This screening tool analyses risk by reference to three factors: the potency (of violence), pattern (of violence and coercive control) and primary perpetrator indicators (PPP). The screening tool is not a predictive device but does give a useful framework of factors to look for when considering the risk of family violence.

  • Toivonen, Cherie and Corina Backhouse, National Risk Assessment Principles for domestic and family violence (ANROWS, 2018).

    This resource identifies lethality/high-risk factors, including (pp 12-15):

    • History of family and domestic violence;
    • Separation (actual or pending);
    • Intimate partner sexual violence;
    • Non-lethal strangulation (or choking);
    • Stalking;
    • Threats to kill;
    • Perpetrator’s access to, or use of weapons;
    • Escalation (frequency and/or severity);
    • Coercive control; and
    • Pregnancy and new birth.

    It also identifies other risk factors, including (pp 15-16):

    • Victim’s self-perception of risk;
    • Suicide threats and attempts;
    • Court orders and parenting proceedings;
    • Misuse of drugs or excessive alcohol consumption;
    • Isolation and barriers to help-seeking; and
    • Abuse of pets and other animals.

    This resource outlines the 9 key principles for assessing risk (pp 5-11):

    • Survivors’ safety is the core priority of all risk assessment frameworks and tools;
    • A perpetrator’s current and past actions and behaviours bear significant weight in determining risk;
    • A survivor’s knowledge of their own risk is central to any risk assessment;
    • Heightened risk and diverse needs of particular cohorts are taken into account in risk assessment and safety management;
    • Risk assessment tools and safety management strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are community-led, culturally safe and acknowledge the significant impact of intergenerational trauma on communities and families;
    • To ensure survivors’ safety, an integrated, systemic response to risk assessment and management, whereby all relevant agencies work together, is critical;
    • Risk assessment and safety management work as part of a continuum of service delivery;
    • Intimate partner sexual violence must be specifically considered in all risk assessment processes; and
    • All risk assessment tools and frameworks are built from evidence-based risk factors.

State and Territory Risk Assessment Tools





  • Queensland Police, ‘Chapter 9: Domestic Violence’ in Operational Procedures Manual (Issue 70, 5 June 2019), Appendix 9.1 ‘Domestic Violence Protective Assessment Framework’.






  • Gentile Long, J and Wilkinson, J, Stalking: effective strategies for prosecutors, Strategies in Brief, Aequitas, Issue 11, April 2012.

    This American resource briefly outlines 3 strategies for successful investigation and prosecution of stalking offences:

    1. Recognise the danger stalkers pose to their victims;
    2. Work with experts to understand and respond to stalking; and
    3. Collaborate and coordinate with other allied criminal justice professionals.
  • Judicial Council of California’s Domestic Violence Practice and Procedure Task Force, Bench guide for recognizing dangerousness in domestic violence cases.

    This US-based resource is designed for use by judicial officers in proceedings involving domestic violence. The checklist is not exhaustive but lists factors most commonly present when there is a risk of serious harm or death. These factors include the perpetrator owning a gun, the perpetrator using drugs, and the physical violence increasing in severity or frequency over the past year.

  • National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative website.
    This aim of this US based organisation is ‘ to provide technical assistance for the reviewing of domestic violence related deaths with the underlying objectives of preventing them in the future, preserving the safety of battered women, and holding accountable both the perpetrators of domestic violence and the multiple agencies and organizations that come into contact with the parties.’ The website provides access to a range of helpful resources including video lectures from some America’s most well-known experts on domestic and family violence. The focus of many of these lectures is on understanding risk.
  • Stalking Resource Center, National Center for Victims of Crime, AEquitas, Office on Violence Against Women, Prosecutor’s Guide to Stalking, October 2015.

    This American resource is intended to assist prosecutors in:

    • analyzing the elements of their stalking statute(s);
    • recognizing stalking in cases where it has been employed by the offender in connection with some other criminal offense;
    • appreciating the strategic value of charging stalking in cases where it is related to other criminal offenses;
    • determining what evidence is necessary to prove the elements of the crime and ensuring that such evidence is properly documented and preserved; and
    • effectively prosecuting a stalking charge.
  • Training Institute of Strangulation Prevention website (United States).

    Includes information on signs and symptoms and impact of strangulation, and online training resources. A single-page downloadable fact sheet emphasises:

    • 10% of women who experience intimate partner violence experience strangulation
    • Strangulation is the obstruction of blood vessels and/or airflow in the neck resulting in asphyxia – loss of consciousness can occur with 5-10 seconds, death within 4-5 minutes
    • 79% of women are strangled manually (with hands); 38% report losing consciousness; 13% are strangled along with sexual assault/abuse, 9% are also pregnant; 97% involve blunt force trauma
    • There is a 7-fold increase in risk of homicide for victims who been previously strangled compared to those never strangled
    • Often there is no external evidence of injury – only half of victims have visible injuries, and of these, only 15% could be photographed
    • Strangulation can cause: physical, neurological and psychological injuries and delayed fatality