Domestic violence can sometimes turn lethal. In the last 10 years, more than 1,600 people died as a result of domestic violence in Pennsylvania. The majority of those tragic deaths were abused women, but the number also included men, children and law enforcement.
With grant funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, PCADV began implementing the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) in 2012 to respond to these staggering statistics. PCADV uses Maryland’s nationally recognized Lethality Assessment Program as its model. The Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence developed the program in conjunction with Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell after discovering through research that only 4% of domestic violence homicide victims had contacted a hotline, shelter, or program prior to being killed by an intimate partner.
The LAP promotes a coordinated community response, which connects victims with domestic violence services who are at the highest risk of being killed.
Police who are responding to a domestic violence incident ask the victim a series of screening questions. The responses to the questions are used to determine the potential lethality of the situation. Depending on victim’s answers, the officer(s) may immediately put the high-risk victim in touch with their local domestic violence program so that the victim may begin safety planning.