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Key risk factors in domestic abuse

Key risk factors in domestic abuse situations can be used to determine if someone's risk of serious harm has increased.

These are based on the SPECSSS assessment used by some police forces.


Is the victim planning to leave the relationship or has recently left?

Are there any issues or conflict over child contact?

Are there any court orders relating to the perpetrator that have been breached?


Is the victim pregnant or has recently given birth?

Has the perpetrator ever been violent whilst the victim was pregnant?


Has the level and frequency of the abuse escalated?

Has the perpetrator caused injuries to the victim previously?

Has the perpetrator used or have access to weapons?

Has the perpetrator ever tried to strangle or smother the victim?

Cultural isolation

Does the victim face barriers in accessing help for example, language or isolation?

Does the victim live in an isolated rural area or are they isolated from family and friends?

Does the victim have a disability?

Does the victim or the perpetrator have any complex needs such as mental ill health or substance misuse issues?

Stalking and harassment

Does the perpetrator harass the victim for example, constant calling, texting, following them or on social media?

Sexual assault

Has the perpetrator said or done things of a sexual nature which hurt the victim or made them feel bad?

Has the perpetrator ever committed or threatened to commit a sexual offence against the victim or anyone else?


Has the perpetrator ever threatened to or attempted to kill themselves?

If you feel that someone’s risk has increased then you must complete a full MARAC risk assessment checklist.