Test and Assessment
Three assessments are used for assessing domestic violence victims. In this regard, psychologists use unstructured clinical judgment, actuarial decision-making, and structured professional judgment. The unstructured clinical judgment is based on clinical knowledge; however, it is considered unreliable even though it is common to assess patients. Actuarial decision-making involves mathematic risk prediction where the psychologists will be using various algorithms. The structured professional judgment helps clinicians identify risk factors, enabling the clinical to address them. Thus, there is a need to use various tools for examining the risk factors for domestic violence.
Various tools are essential for assessing those at risk of domestic violence. These are essential for calculating the score that reflects the magnitude of the risk. The tools are used for identifying the risk factors at an early stage, creating an approach for solving them. In this regard, Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide (SARA), Domestic Violence Screening Inventory (DVSI), and Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) may be helpful (Yaxley, Norris & Haines, 2018).
Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide
SARA is a commonly used risk assessment tool essential for determining the risk factors. It provides critical directions on items that should be administered during the interview. The tool has twenty items that enable psychologists to assess risk factors. These risk factors are based on domestic violence’s professional and empirical literature (Llor-Esteban et al., 2016).
Domestic Violence Screening Inventory (DVSI)
Domestic Violence Screening Inventory (DVSI) is a 12-item scale that enables criminal justice officers to identify the risk of domestic violence or determine the risk of recidivism. Psychologist using the tool records the score on a scale ranging from 0-2, 0-3, producing a maximum score of 30. A higher score will indicate the probability of recidivism. The tool has proven effective in predicting various forms of violence in the family (Yaxley, Norris & Haines, 2018; Gurm & Salgado, 2020).
Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment
Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment is an easily used tool that does not require training as to other tools (Hegel, Pelletier & Olver, 2021; Dowling & Morgan, 2019). In this regard, it is a brief actuarial risk assessment tool essential for enabling those who have responded first, like police officers, court staff, and community workers/victim service workers, to identify the recidivism risk. The tool has thirteen items that the respondents must answer yes or no. Previously, it was mainly used by police officers to include only available information. As a result, they involve the history of violent crimes and response to official sanctions. Obtaining a score of seventy percent or more may indicate the risk of the offenders becoming re-offenders (Yaxley, Norris & Haines, 2018;).
The Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide is mainly used to assess male offenders. In this regard, most studies have only focused on male individuals. As a result, there is a recommendation for other tools to assess female offenders. However, a critical change that should be made to the tool is that there should be no use of critical item ratings. This is because the tool has poor inter-rater reliability. As a result, the tool should only be used for its intended use. Psychologists using the tool should not make predictive statements unless they can get adequate evidence on the risk of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Screening Inventory (DVSI) can be used to predict forms of family violence regardless of gender, age, and ethnic background. Repeated referrals for victims to be assessed by the tool may indicate recidivism. However, the critical change that should be involved when using the tool is that psychologists should use their clinical judgment to improve the tool’s accuracy.
For Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA), psychologists need to exercise absolute caution due to the need for more research that can be used to support it. The tool was developed in Canada and may not be applicable in other regions like Australia and many other countries (Radatz & Hilton, 2019). Thus, there is a need to develop a new tool based on other countries’ data like the US and Australia.
Psychologists have the right to warn and identify those at serious risk for suffering from domestic violence. In this regard, they can reveal clients’ confidential information when they believe that the party will be harmed. This will start by understanding the difference between the ethical role of confidentiality and the legal term of privileged communication. Confidentiality occurs when there is utmost respect between the clients and the caregivers where the counselor will have to ensure the information revealed is kept private. However, when a client threatens to cause harm to others, there is a need for reporting the abuse as provided by the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics and American Psychological Association. Besides, psychologists have a moral responsibility for reporting the victim to authorities to take action against the abuser. There is also a need for notifying the victims about their rights to seek justice against the vice. This is because some may fear going to authorities. Under these circumstances, the counselor will not be violating victims’ confidentiality.
Dowling, C., & Morgan, A. (2019). Predicting repeat domestic violence: Improving police risk assessment. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, (581), 1-16.
Gurm, B., & Salgado, G. (2020). Assessing Risk. Making Sense of a Global Pandemic: Relationship Violence & Working Together Towards a Violence Free Society.
Hegel, J., Pelletier, K. D., & Olver, M. E. (2021). Predictive Properties of the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) in a Northern Canadian Prairie Sample. Criminal justice and behavior, 00938548211033631.
Llor-Esteban, B., García-Jiménez, J. J., Ruiz-Hernández, J. A., & Godoy-Fernández, C. (2016). Profile of partner aggressors as a function of risk of recidivism. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 16(1), 39-46.
Radatz, D. L., & Hilton, N. Z. (2019). Determining batterer intervention program treatment intensities: An illustration using the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment. Partner abuse, 10(3), 269-282.
Yaxley, R., Norris, K., & Haines, J. (2018). Psychological assessment of intimate partner violence. Psychiatry, psychology and law, 25(2), 237-256.