A National Partnership to Predict and Prevent Domestic Violence Homicides

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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.

History

Our Work in Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention
Research shows that many domestic violence homicides are predictable; and if they are predictable, they are preventable. The Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center developed the DVHRT model in 2005 to leverage this predictability.

Now, we look to expand and adapt our approaches in partnership with communities across the United States.
Read about the origin of the DVHRT Model
Origin of the DVHRT Model

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.

Back

What We Do

Group of people in a conference room sitting around a table with laptops, looking at a speaker pointing to a whiteboard

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.

Our Partners

Events

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
systems response.

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
customize.

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
stakeholders.

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Why the Geiger Institute? Why Now? 

New solutions are needed. Intimate partner violence and intimate partner homicide disproportionately impact certain communities. While rates of women killed by intimate partners declined in the U.S. between 1980 and 1995, this trend reversed and, as of 2008, there has been a 5% increase in the proportion of women killed by an intimate partner since 1980. Further, Black women are murdered by men at a rate more than 2.5 times higher than white women and 61% of all homicides of Hispanic women were IPV-related, a higher proportion than any other ethnic group. Now, there is even more urgency as the risk and severity of domestic violence has increased due to the environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We want to again work to identify and close systemic gaps, closely examine the effectiveness of approaches in groups experiencing higher rates of intimate partner violence and customize our work in Black and brown communities to make sure they have pathways to safety. There is an unprecedented opportunity to look at how we can better partner with communities and bring together effective practices, the latest research and strong partnerships with sharpened focus and attention in order to affect change and have greater impact in reducing domestic violence homicide. 

Origin of the DVHRT Model

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 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 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 now trained communities in over 200 jurisdictions across the U.S. in the DVHRT model as well as the Danger Assessment for Law Enforcement Tool (DA-LE). The Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) recognized the DVHRT Model as a “leading promising practice” in intimate partner homicide prevention.