Recidivism: What Domestic Violence Offenders 

Are Most Likely To Abuse Again?


An important piece of information for victims and agencies alike is the question of how to predict if a domestic violence offender is likely to continue or escalate their abuse with their victim.  Thanks to extensive research in this area, we can look at a number of risk factors that help to predict future acts of coercion or violence.


In 2009, The National Institute of Justice published "Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges" citing 228 research articles.  Their results on this topic show the following list to be the top predictors of reabuse:

  1. Previous arrest (not necessarily conviction) for any crime; probability of reoffending increases with multiple prior arrests
  2. Victim's opinion about likelihood of reabuse
  3. Substance abuse
  4. Suspect fleeing the scene and are not present upon police arrival


In addition to contributing to the likelihood of reabuse, these factors can be used to assess risk of possible homicide within relationships where abuse is present (lethality risk markers):


  1. Use of or threats to use a weapon
  2. Presence of firearms in household
  3. Threats to kill
  4. Prior attempts to strangle
  5. Forced sex
  6. Escalating severity of physical violence over time
  7. Abuser is not the father of children in household


Those who re-assaulted within the first three months of arrest were more likely to repeatedly reassualt their partners than those who committed the first reassault after the first three months.

Women’s Fund of Omaha

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