Bayview Domestic Violence High Risk Pilot Program
What: In 2017, the City and County of San Francisco launched a pilot program to better identify domestic violence victims at high risk of death or serious injury, connect them to services, and follow up with the most at-risk cases. This project experienced initial success in enabling San Francisco to better identify and serve victims who are at high risk of lethality in domestic violence relationships. In the fall of 2018, the project was renewed through a 3-year $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence against Women.
How: Using a screening tool developed by researchers who have identified high risk factors in domestic violence cases,1 police officers responding to a domestic violence incident ask victims a series of 11 questions. Victims who answer a certain number of questions positively are immediately connected by phone with a domestic violence advocate from La Casa de las Madres. The use of a similar protocol in other parts of the country has resulted in increased numbers of domestic violence victims connecting to services, and decreased numbers of domestic violence homicides. During the first 12 months of the San Francisco pilot in the Bayview District, 55% of victims screened in as high risk. Eighty-four percent of victims who spoke to a domestic violence advocate from the scene accessed further services from La Casa de las Madres, including counseling, advocacy, legal assistance, and shelter. To address areas of needed systems-level change, and track outcomes, the pilot convenes monthly meetings of an interagency team to review the cases identified as most at-risk. The new funding will allow San Francisco to establish a Domestic Violence Death Review Team – from 2014 - 2017 there have been 11 domestic violence homicides in San Francisco. A Domestic Violence Death Review Team will help identify gaps, trends, and areas for intervention.
Where: The Bayview District was chosen for this pilot project because it generates some of the highest rates of domestic violence calls to the police. The first year of the pilot revealed far fewer Asian Pacific Islander families are calling the police in domestic violence cases, even though these families access domestic violence services in the community. APA Family Support Services will implement bilingual bicultural outreach through their Home Visitation Program to ensure that families and young mothers have access to health resources, parenting education, child development information, and information about domestic violence and associated risk factors.
Why: Based on three bodies of significant research by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, spanning 25 years:
- Only 4 % of domestic violence victims had ever availed themselves of domestic violence hotline or shelter in the year prior to being killed by an intimate partner;2
- In the year prior to the homicide, more than 44% of abusers were arrested, and almost one-third of victims contacted the police;3
- The re-assault of domestic violence victims in high danger reduces when they access domestic violence services.4 The goal of the project is to prevent domestic violence homicides, serious injury, and re-assault by examining the systems that respond to domestic violence incidents and encouraging more victims to utilize the support and shelter services of domestic violence programs.
Partners: Department on the Status of Women, San Francisco Police Department, District Attorney’s Office, La Casa de las Madres, and APA Family Support Services.
1 Campbell, J.C., et al. (2003). Risk factors for femicide in abusive relationships: Results from a multi-site case study. American Journal of Public Health, 93(7), 1089-1097.
2 Sharps, P. W., et al. (2001). Health care providers’ missed opportunities for preventing femicide. Preventive
Medicine 33, 373-80.
3 Sharps, P. W., et al. (2001). Health care providers’ missed opportunities for preventing femicide. Preventive
Medicine 33, 373-80.
4 Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, Lethality Assessment Program, https://lethalityassessmentprogram.org/about-lap/talking-points/.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2015-WE-AX-0002 awarded by the Office of Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women.