Domestic Violence Danger Assessment Quiz

Determining Your Risk of Death by an Intimate Partner

Abused Woman

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If you're in an abusive relationship that has turned violent, you may be in more danger than you realize. Domestic violence can escalate quickly and it often turns deadly with little warning. In fact, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around half of female homicide deaths in the U.S. are committed by a current or former intimate partner each year.

When you're in an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to see the danger you're in. As time passes, the abuse can become your new normal, and your ability to make clear decisions can become clouded. This is when outside help is needed.

If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

The Danger Assessment Tool

Fortunately, there are tools that can help. Jacquelyn C. Campbell, Ph.D., a noted researcher with the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, first developed the Danger Assessment (DA) tool in 1986 to help victims of abuse identify when their lives are in danger from an intimate partner. Dr. Campbell has continued to develop and refine the assessment tool to its recent fifth version. The DA-5 is shorter, for use in healthcare settings like emergency rooms and urgent-care centers, with an item specifically on strangulation, a dangerous and potentially lethal tactic commonly used in intimate partner violence.

All versions of this powerful, predictive tool incorporate extensive statistical research by Campbell, who has authored or co-authored more than 230 publications and seven books on domestic violence and the outcomes of domestic abuse.

How the Tool Was Developed

Campbell's research into violent relationships helped establish how certain behaviors, patterns, and social demographics can increase or decrease the risk of fatality in an abusive relationship. Referred to as "predictors of death," these factors can establish the threat risk irrespective of whether the abusive partner has ever been jailed or charged with a crime.

Campbell's tool has been used for over three decades by law enforcement officials, healthcare professionals, and domestic violence advocates to identify and assist domestic violence victims who are at the highest level of danger.

A shortened version called the "Lethality Assessment" (LA) tool has been developed for use by police officers responding to domestic violence calls. Women at risk are typically referred to nearby advocates trained in the danger assessment.

How to Take a Danger Assessment

The DA is divided into two parts: a calendar assessment and a 20-question quiz. Each serves a specific purpose:

  • The calendar tool helps assess the severity and frequency of physical abuse during the past year. The woman is asked to mark the approximate date of an incident and to rank the severity on a scale of one to five. This portion of the DA was designed to raise the consciousness of a woman who may be in denial about the abuse.
  • The 20-question quiz is a weighted system in which a woman is asked to respond with simple "yes" or "no" answers. Some of the risk factors include past death threats, the partner’s employment status, and the partner’s access to a gun.

You can download the Danger Assessment for free or print it out in the language of your choosing. There are also versions available for same-sex female relationships and immigrant women. A confidential account can be registered to update or review the Danger Assessment when needed.

What the Assessment Can Tell You

While the calendar portion is used to either track abuse or provide a more clear portrait of the history of abuse, the quiz portion is designed to determine your risk here and now.

Based on the results of the quiz, your risk level will be established as follows:

  • You are in extreme danger if you answered "yes" to 18 or more questions.
  • You are in severe danger if you answered "yes" to 14 to 17 questions.
  • You are at increased danger if you answered "yes" to eight to 13 questions.

Based on the results, you can choose to contact an advocate or counselor to find ways to reduce your risk or to seek support or shelter by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or TTY (800) 787-3224.

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7 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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