Earlier Intervention for Domestic Violence Victims: The Lethality Assessment Protocol

Written By: The Women’s Center’s Staff

November 11, 2020

Revised October 10, 2023

It takes a community to create a holistic support system for victims of domestic violence. To do that, we partner with law enforcement, hospitals, government agencies, and many other organizations and groups.

One of the most impactful collaborative programs in Waukesha County is the Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP). The Women’s Center engages with local law enforcement agencies by working together to keep our clients safe, encouraging them to utilize our 24-Hour Hotline from a scene of a domestic violence incident, and training them on the LAP to measure and assess the risk of homicide at the scene of a domestic violence response.

These partnerships are essential to connecting domestic violence victims to our services, identifying victims who are at high risk of homicide by their partners, and increasing the likelihood that abusers are prosecuted.


What is the Lethality Assessment Protocol?

The Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP) is a national evidence-based screening tool that ensures the risk of homicide or near fatalities is better assessed at the scene of a domestic violence response by law enforcement asking the victim a series of standard questions. This assessment is conducted in a quiet area, away from the suspected abuser, and uses language more familiar to the public instead of legal terms.

Further, it creates a protocol to connect victims faster to The Women’s Center, to provide supportive services, leading to earlier intervention and reducing chances of homicide. From the scene of every domestic violence incident, many local law enforcement officers call our 24-Hour Hotline so we can offer victims shelter and supportive services.


The LAP Saves Lives

The LAP truly saves and changes lives. When victims are connected to domestic violence resources early on, the risk of re-assault drops by 60%. As of September this year, our dedicated law enforcement partners have carried out 330 lethality assessments. Of these assessments, a substantial 68% were found to face a severe risk of being killed by their abuser, and among them, 38% chose to seek services from The Women’s Center.

Comparatively, for the entire year of 2022, a total of 395 lethality assessments were conducted with an identical 68% identified as highly lethal situations. Among these 395 people, 40% chose to engage with The Women’s Center for support. These figures underscore the ongoing and consistent demand for our lifesaving programs and services within the community, highlighting the critical need for our intervention and assistance.


Thank you to our partners!

We are thankful for each of our partners. They play a key role in making sure survivors are aware of community resources and have access to safety and space to begin healing and building a more peaceful future.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call our free, confidential 24-Hour Hotline at 262.542.3828.


Learn more:

  • Lethality Assessment Protocol  
  • The Women’s Center’s Director of Shelter and Transitional Living, Jessi Trauth, and our partner, City of Delafield Police Chief Landon Nyren, joined WUWM’s Lake Effect to discuss the Lethality Assessment Protocol for victims of domestic violence. Listen here.