Domestic violence service programs are central to the implementation and success of the Lethality Assessment Program-Maryland Model (LAP). The other implementers, law enforcement, healthcare, Maryland State Departments, criminal justice and other allied professionals, partner with domestic service violence programs. The domestic violence service program has three critical functions:
- To speak with implementers and victims on the hotline as a part of the LAP protocol;
- To encourage victims to access their program’s services; and
- To provide life-saving services to victims.
The LAP offers programs the ability to reach victims who may not have otherwise reached out to them for help.
The lethality predictors on the Screen, and the language officers and advocates use to explain them, help victims see their situations through a different lens, and assess their danger level more realistically. While the collective wisdom of the community around the unique risk factors victims face is valuable in designing programs and outreach, the LAP offers a standardized means of assessing homicide risk for victims that is based on years of research with thousands of victims across geographical, socioeconomic, and racial/ethnic lines.
All domestic violence is serious, but some situations are near lethal and the LAP offers advocates a way of targeting differentiated services for victims who may be at imminent risk of homicide. With the LAP, advocates can rely on evidence to know how dangerous a victim’s situation is and who is in need of enhanced services, and not have to over-rely on their intuition. It also exposes areas for additional training or targeted services (e.g., if the program is finding that many victims are being strangled, they may want to organize strangulation training for officers and advocates, or if the program finds that legal advocacy is the service most high danger victims need, resources can be prioritized to emphasize and strengthen the legal advocacy program).