What is the Domestic Violence High-Risk Team Model?

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 (OVW) as a “successful homicide reduction model.” With a goal of preventing intimate partner homicides (IPH) and near-lethal assaults, the Model has successfully replicated in a variety of jurisdictions across the country.

Four Core Components of the DVHRT Model

The Geiger Institute’s 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
  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.

How DVHRTs Reduce Intimate Partner Violence

The DVHRT Model was also created with the understanding that when domestic violence 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 IPH by both monitoring specific high-risk cases and closing gaps in the domestic violence response system

What Agencies Participate On a DVHRT?

DVHRTs should include representation from stakeholders with access to critical case-related information. To ensure that DVHRTs remain victim centered, teams are led or co-led by a non-governmental domestic violence agency representative. Other core partners on the team include law enforcement, prosecution, probation (or pretrial services if applicable), parole and corrections. When possible, court-ordered offender intervention programs also participate. 

Intimate partner homicide disproportionately impacts marginalized communities, particularly women of color and immigrants. The most successful domestic violence high risk teams are community driven projects that reflect the community. For this reason, DVHRTs should include culturally specific organizations.

For more information regarding domestic violence high risk teams, please contact Geiger Institute today.

To continue reading about DVHRTs, download a PDF of this information here.

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.