Abuser's Potential to Kill

It is strongly recommended that in order to assess your personal safety accurately you must seek assistance from a trained professional. DASA (Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault) nurses can provide a threat assessment and safety planning specific to your situation. Shelters may also provide this service.

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Some abusers are life endangering. It is possible to evaluate whether an abuser is likely to kill his or her partner, other family members, and/or others attempting to intervene. The following are indicators often used in making an assessment of an abuser's potential to kill.


Fantasies or Threats of Homicide or Suicide

The more the abuser has developed a fantasy about whom, how, when and/or where to kill, the more dangerous the abuser may be. The abuser who has previously acted out part of a homicide or suicide fantasy may be invested in killing as a viable "solution" to the abuser's problem if there is nothing else to lose.

The abuser who has threatened to kill themselves, their partner, the children, or their relatives must be considered extremely dangerous.


Weapons / Firearms

Where an abuser possesses weapons and has used them or has threatened to use them in past assaults on the abuse victim, the children or self, the abuser's access to those weapons increases the potential for lethal assault.


Obsessive about Partner or Family

An abuser who is obsessive about their partner, who either idolizes and feels that they cannot live without their partner or believes they are entitled to their partner no matter what because they are their spouse, is more likely to be life-endangering.


Centrality of the Abused Partner

If the loss of the abused partner represents or precipitates a total loss of hope for a positive future, an abuser may choose to kill. This is in line with the fact that women are at highest risk pending or after they have left their abuser for a period of 6 months to 1 year.



Where an abuser has been acutely depressed and sees little hope for moving beyond the depression, they may be a candidate for homicide and suicide.


Drugs or Alcohol Consumption

Consumption of drugs or alcohol when in a state of despair or fury can elevate the risk of lethality.


Access to the Victim and / or Family Member

Limiting access by the abuser to the abused person reduces the risk.