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Advanced Series Training


Assessing Risk for Sexual and Domestic Violence Recidivism: Latest Research, including Cross-Cultural Validity

Presented by Maaike Helmus, PhD

Summary: Many racial and ethnic groups are overrepresented in the criminal legal system, and there are reasons to be concerned about whether risk assessment tools developed on predominantly White samples would apply to different racial/ethnic groups. One of the challenges in this area has also been a confusing and conflicting set of definitions for what “racial bias” means. This presentation will review and synthesize different definitions of “racial bias” and outline what is needed in examining the cross-cultural validity of risk tools. Existing research on cross-cultural validity and generalizability of risk factors and risk tools will be discussed, with a particular (but not exclusive) focus on sexual recidivism risk assessment. This will include a summary of a recent meta-analysis on general risk assessment with Indigenous offenders, and meta-analyses and reviews of sexual recidivism risk tools across Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, Indian, and Asian men. Implications for practice will be discussed.

Summary: An early meta-analytic summary found that risk tools specifically designed for domestic violence (DV) did not necessarily predict DV recidivism any better than generic risk assessment tools designed for other outcomes. This presentation will summarize three research initiatives related to improving risk assessment for domestic violence.

1) Summary of a comprehensive meta-analysis of over 100 studies on predictors of domestic violence recidivism. Over 2,000 individual effect sizes were coded, and the results will be organized at different levels of specificity (specific variables, categories, broader domains), and classified as either empirically supported risk factors, promising risk factors, unsupported but with interesting exceptions, or not supported. Domains that will be examined include characteristics of the index offence, the Central 8 risk factors for crime, mental health variables, proposed IPV-specific risk factors (including variables related to weapons use, context of the relationship, and pattern of IPV behavior), and victim vulnerability factors. Big-picture observations of how DV risk tools align with this body of research will be discussed.

2) Summary of a series of recent studies on communicating risk for intimate partner violence recidivism. Perceptions of risk can be influenced by how risk scale results are communicated, as well as by factors likely unrelated to risk, such as victim and perpetrator gender identity, mental health diagnoses, the presence of bidirectional violence, and attitudes of the recipient of the information.

3) Overlap and differentiation of risk factors in men with both sexual and IPV offences in their criminal record. For individuals with both offence types (sometimes against the same victim), it is often unclear whether they should be primarily assessed and treated for their risk of sexual offending or IPV offending.

This study examines risk factors that are universal as well as factors purportedly specific to either sexual or domestic violence, and compares the relative utility of these items in predicting sexual, DV, any violent, and any recidivism.

After reviewing these three streams of research, recommendations for the improvement of domestic violence risk assessment will be discussed.

Date: April 18th, 2024

Time: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Cost $50

Format: In Person ONLY

Audience: DV & SO Professionals Only

ODVSOM Training Policy

By registering for any ODVSOM training, you agree to the Office of Domestic Violence and Sex Offender Management Training Policy. 

Read our Updated Training Conduct Policy

Request for Accommodations

For questions about accessibility or to request special accommodations please contact Taylor Redding at Taylor.Redding@state.co.us. We kindly request at least one week's advance notice of any needed accommodations. 

Certificate of Completion

Per the ODVSOM training policy, certificates are not tracked and managed by program staff. After 90 days, program staff will not be able to provide you with a copy of your certificate of completion.