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Assessing recidivism of Domestic Violence an early Intervention approach

Final Activity Report Summary - A RED VEIN (Assessing recidivism of domestic violence an early intervention approach)

The fellowship conducted in Italy at the Department of Psychology, Second University of Naples, was a logical continuation of the studies that were conducted in the Netherlands during the two years of the Marie Curie Individual Fellowship. The fellowship consisted of a research part (main part) and a practical part (training). The results obtained were used to promote the development of strategic prevention intervention for the reduction of recidivism and of escalation of violence which in some case can even result in homicide. The project aimed at developing the best approach to prevent risk of recidivism in cases of domestic violence by addressing risk factors of the perpetrator as well as vulnerability factors of the victim and protective factors a victim might have, personally and socially that reduces her risk of being re-victimised.

The Methos used is the SARA, which is a method to assess risk of recidivism in cases of intimate partner violence, according to the so called 'risk factors', and it was developed in Canada by Kropp and Hart (1995).Beside risk factors associated to the perpetrator, the risk of recidivism is highly related to the so called 'vulnerability factors'. These factors are related both to the individual (personality trait, coping strategies of the victims, her stereotypes) as well as to the social context (i.e. lack of resources, isolation, economical dependency). The research brought forward during the project aimed at longitudinally assess a sample of 295 battered women and identify presence/absence of risk/vulnerability factors and according to the level of violence reported at stage one and the presence or absence of risk/vulnerability factors, follow up the victims at stage two and establish what happened after two months, in terms of recidivism of violence. The study is relevant because it scientifically establish the relationship between violence and risk factors and recidivism related factors. The results from the study were able also to establish not only which are the most relevant risk factors of recidivism but also the most efficient protective measures that help reduce the recidivism rate.

During the follow-up stage, victims were also asked about any changes in their lives during the last two months (a divorce, change of house, the perpetrator was arrested, a protective/restraining order was issued) in order to establish if these had any effect on recidivism of violence. Results confirmed the hypotheses that, in high risk cases (i.e. more violence, escalation of violence, past violence and threat of killing the partner) where some forms of intervention were taken, the level of recidivism was lower compared to those cases where no intervention was taken. These results are very important for preventive and intervention strategic measures, for law enforcement, social services, and anyone dealing with cases of domestic violence.

The fellowship comprised of the following stages:
1)Translation into Italian of the risk assessment factors of the SARA (both in its complete form as well as in its screening version, named in Italy 'SARA-S Screening version).
2)Translate the clinical scales developed and used in their English version during the Marie Curies TMR two years project. These consisted of measure of Post- Traumatic stress, anxiety, measured with the STAXI Scale.
3) collection during a period time of two-months for each victim, with a total of 295 cases. The data collection took six months; this time was used to get in touch with all the victims and follow them up for two month to find out if they were victimised again, and the level of accuracy on the assessment of risk done at the first stage. Victims were recruited either in shelters for battered women, social services, medical services or privately in the area of Naples
4)Training of police officers as well as social workers and psychologists working in shelters for battered women in risk assessment in cases of spousal assault.
5)Publication of a book, 'Dai maltrattamenti all'omicidio. La valutazione del rischio di recidiva e dell'uxoricidio', FrancoAngeli, Milano.
6)Presentation of results at international conferences.