A National Partnership to Predict and Prevent Domestic Violence Homicides
The Geiger Institute is a national initiative to end domestic violence homicides.
We partner with communities to implement proven homicide reduction strategies, develop new solutions, and evaluate effectiveness. Through these collaborative partnerships, we create pathways to safety for those most at risk of fatal intimate partner violence.
Now, we look to expand and adapt our approaches in partnership with communities across the United States.
In 2002, while advocates at the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center were trying to help a woman named Dorothy find safety from her abusive husband, she was killed in her home as her daughter was on the phone with the police. Her husband was released by the court four days before on low-cash bail. After Dorothy was killed, the advocates set out to understand where the system had failed her and how to prevent this from happening again.
From this event, the Domestic Violence High Risk Team (DVHRT) was born. The model is based on the research of Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN from Johns Hopkins University that identiﬁed the risk factors present when a woman is killed by their intimate partner. The team-based model looks to identify and close systemic gaps and bring together community partners that previously operated in silos.
The first DVHRT in Newburyport, Massachusetts is still in place today. In the ten years prior to its implementation, there were eight domestic violence-related deaths in the greater Newburyport community; since starting in 2005, the team has accepted over 200 high-risk cases resulting in zero homicides.
Working in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges, advocates and community leaders, the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center has provided training and technical assistance to over 250 jurisdictions across 21 states. More than 70 of those sites have implemented the DVHRT Model, including 26 teams throughout Massachusetts. The Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women recognized the DVHRT Model as a “leading promising practice” in intimate partner homicide prevention.
What We Do
The Domestic Violence High Risk Team (DVHRT) Model is a nationally recognized domestic violence homicide prevention framework, identified by the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women as a “leading promising practice in the field.” With a goal of preventing intimate partner homicides and near-lethal assaults, the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center has successfully replicated the Model in a variety of jurisdictions across the country.
The DVHRT Model consists of four core components: 1) early identification of the most dangerous cases through evidence-based risk assessment; 2) increased access to supportive services for high-risk victims; 3) increased offender monitoring and accountability, and 4) a coordinated response to high-risk cases through a multidisciplinary team.
Research shows that many intimate partner homicides are predictable; and if they are predictable, they are preventable. The DVHRT Model leverages that predictability by incorporating research-based risk assessment into a community’s domestic violence response system to identify the most dangerous cases.
The DVHRT Model was also created with the understanding that when DV response systems share information and work together they have greater impact than when they operate in silos. High risk cases are monitored by a multidisciplinary team that shares case information and implements coordinated intervention plans to mitigate the danger. The goal of a DVHRT is to reduce intimate partner homicide by both monitoring specific high-risk cases and closing gaps in the domestic violence response system.
Who We Are
As part of its mission to empower individuals and engage communities to end domestic violence, local service provider Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center has become a nationally recognized leader in the fight to end domestic violence homicides. For 17 years, we have provided training and technical assistance to 250 jurisdictions across the country working to prevent domestic violence homicides.
This work will continue and grow as the Geiger Institute. We are actively expanding our team, building our partnerships, raising critical funding, and evolving our work to increase pathways to safety for those who are most marginalized.
Across all our work and in our partnerships, we commit to:
- Provide empathetic and trauma-informed services.
- Center social justice and equity.
- Use a strengths-based, survivor-led approach.
- Work collaboratively within communities.
- Practice with heart and a holistic mindset.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The systems tasked with responding to domestic violence often
operate in silos and have limited ability to transfer information
about victims who are at risk of being killed. This lack of cohesion
creates gaps in communication, and it is in those gaps that many
of the homicides occur. Collaborative interventions improve the
The Geiger Institute works in communities to provide training and
technical assistance to police, courts, advocates and others to
increase their ability to identify high risk cases and take action to
prevent domestic violence homicide.
We know that those at highest risk of domestic violence homicide
are women of color. Black women are murdered by men at a rate
more than 2.5 times higher than white women; 61% of all homicides
of Hispanic women were intimate partner violence (IPV)-related, a
higher proportion than any other ethnic group; and 39% of Native
American women identified as victims of IPV, a rate higher than any
other race or ethnicity surveyed. Immigrant and refugee women
face multiple barriers.
We must work to identify and implement solutions for those most
at risk of domestic violence homicide. For example, for Black
women systems put in place can often result in discrimination
instead of safety. Solutions will be tailored to and driven by each
community’s needs and will focus on removing barriers to safety
for those most at risk.
Domestic violence homicide is a complex and layered issue. In
order to implement new approaches in communities, we need to
identify broken systems that have historically created obstacles
for victims. This kind of deep change requires investment and
identifying local champions to lead efforts on a community level.
The DVHRT model is designed to be customized by a community
to meet the unique needs of that community. We often say it is
a framework and not a formula. This is a strength of the model in
that it is able to work in many communities due to its ability to
We have designed and tested an implementation process that
helps to ensure quality control by taking communities through
a nine-month process, including policy development, model
customization, technical support for data collection, and 8-10
training events for advocates, law enforcement, judiciary and
other community partners.
Each community that implements the DVHRT and DA-LE commits to
collecting data and sharing it with the Geiger Institute. We then
provide an analysis of the data and discuss the data with the site
at regular intervals. This process allows us to help the community
assess how the model is working, benchmark their success, as well
as identify any specific areas that may require additional training
or support. We also look at data across racial and ethnic groups,
allowing us to discern if there are disparate outcomes by race.
Data is released regularly, providing transparency to community
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