The “Golden Thread”: Coercive Control and Risk Assessment for Domestic Violence

Myhill, A. & Hohl, K. (2016). The “Golden Thread”: Coercive Control and Risk Assessment for Domestic Violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, doi: 10.1177/0886260516675464

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Abstract

Research on risk assessment for domestic violence has to date focused primarily on the predictive power of individual risk factors and the statistical validity of risk assessment tools in predicting future physical assault in sub-sets of cases dealt with by the police. This study uses data from risk assessment forms from a random sample of cases of domestic violence reported to the police. An innovative latent trait model is used to test whether a cluster of risk factors associated with coercive control is most representative of the type of abuse that comes to the attention of the police. Factors associated with a course of coercive and controlling conduct, including perpetrators’ threats, controlling behavior and sexual coercion, and victims’ isolation and fear, had highest item loadings and were thus the most representative of the overall construct. Sub-lethal physical violence—choking and use of weapons—was also consistent with a course of controlling conduct. Whether a physical injury was sustained during the current incident, however, was not associated consistently either with the typical pattern of abuse or with other context-specific risk factors such as separation from the perpetrator. Implications for police practice and the design of risk assessment tools are discussed. We conclude that coercive control is the “golden thread” running through risk identification and assessment for domestic violence and that risk assessment tools structured around coercive control can help police officers move beyond an “incident-by-incident” response and toward identifying the dangerous patterns of behavior that precede domestic homicide.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2016
Uncontrolled Keywords: domestic violence, coercive control, risk assessment, police
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Sociology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/15642

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