• The authors wish to acknowledge Neil McLaughlin for his assistance with this paper regarding editing. The authors wish to thank the survivors who were willing to share their stories with us. We would also like to thank the staff at the Monroe County Family Court and Alternatives for Battered Women.


Every day, judges are faced with decisions regarding intimate partner violence (IPV) victims' requests for protection orders, custody arrangements, and visitation schedules. To make informed decisions, judges must understand victims' risk for future violence. This mixed method study explores the extent to which protection order petitions (n = 169) communicate victims' current danger and future risk of violence. Methods included interviews coupled with an archival review of court petitions. Findings suggest judges are inadequately prepared to render decisions to improve victim safety in the absence of standardized risk assessments. The Danger Assessment provides an evidence-based solution to routinize intake interviews with victims petitioning the court.

Key Points for the Family Court Community:

  • Court personnel should ask petitioners specific questions regarding risk factors when drafting protection orders.
  • The Danger Assessment is an evidenced based tool that could be used to standardize intake interviews with individuals petitioning the court for protection orders.
  • Information regarding risk factors will help judges issue more informed protection orders and increase petitioner safety.