Australian Institute of Criminology

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Reducing intimate-partner homicide rates. What are the risk factors for death when a woman is being abused?

74 Leichhardt Street, Griffith, ACT, Dr Carolyn Rebecca Block
08 December 2008 -

Dr Carolyn Rebecca Block
Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority

Presentation overview

When nurses, police officers and other service providers talk with a woman experiencing violence from an intimate partner, what should they say or do to lower the risk that either partner will kill the other? The Chicago Women's Health Risk Study (CWHRS) was designed to answer this question. This presentation will look at the most important findings of the CWHRS. Though some of these findings will not be surprising to practitioners, it is very useful to be able to point to careful research that backs up field experience. On the other hand, some findings may be surprising. For example, the CWHRS found not only that past violence is an important risk factor, but also found that some women are at risk of death even with no previous violent incident against them. Other findings of key importance to practitioners are the following: (1) leaving as both a protective factor against but also a risk factor for death, (2) the importance of choking/attempted strangulation as a risk factor for death, (3) risk factors for an abused woman killing her abuser, and (4) the voices of women about help-seeking. The presentation concludes with implications for practice, including three key questions a helping person should ask an abused woman.

The presenter

Carolyn Rebecca Block is Senior Research Analyst at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, where she advises policymakers, researchers, and the public on the use and interpretation of data, especially measurement issues and violence prevention. A founder of the Homicide Research Working Group, she is principal investigator of the Chicago Women's Health Risk Study (CWHRS), a large longitudinal study of lethal and non-lethal intimate-partner violence. Working closely with the Chicago Police Department, she has collected and maintained the Chicago Homicide Dataset (CHD) since 1965. Her current research focuses on collaborative analyses of the CHD and the CWHRS.