Four Central Florida residents were murdered and several children lost their mothers in a deadly weekend of domestic violence, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The recent outbreak has advocates urging those in abusive relationships to take a free and anonymous lethality assessment to determine whether the situation could turn deadly — and to get help if so. Advocates are working with local law enforcement to incorporate the assessments in their investigations.
“Those 15 minutes [to take the survey] can mean the difference between life and death for someone leaving a relationship where domestic abuse was present,” said Carol Wick of domestic-violence shelter Harbor House. The lethality survey was adopted by Orlando police in 2009 based on a Johns Hopkins University study. Threats of suicide, financial woes and increased brutality boost the risk of abuse turning deadly. The more specific the threat or plan, the more seriously it should be taken, Wick said. “A lot of people blow it off if someone threatens suicide, but that threat needs to be taken very, very seriously,” Wick said. “They [suicidal batterers] have nothing to lose and have already decided to die. They have no intention of being caught by police and no fear of accountability.”