Three Things That Increase The Chances of Domestic Violence Turning Deadly

There are certain factors that dramatically heighten the risk of lethality in situations of intimate partner violence. Let’s take a look at how the presence of weapons in the home, incidents of strangulation, and threats of suicide can take an already dangerous situation and turn it into a deadly one.

  1. Weapons in the home

The presence of weapons in a household significantly escalates the risk of domestic violence turning deadly. Firearms are associated with a higher likelihood of homicide in domestic abuse situations. The accessibility and lethality of firearms mean that conflicts can quickly escalate to tragedies. Whether the weapon is used in a moment of rage or as a means of control and intimidation, its mere presence in the home creates an atmosphere of fear and danger for the victim.

Ways to help minimize the risk of death by firearms in abusive relationships:

  • Write your legislator to strengthen state laws that prohibit domestic abusers from possessing guns and requiring abusers to relinquish guns they already have.
  • Support implementation and enforcement of existing laws on firearm relinquishment by state and local courts and law enforcement agencies.
  • Strengthen the federal background check system to keep guns out of dangerous hands by closing deadly loopholes and addressing deficiencies.
  • Help fund research on the nexus of guns and intimate partner violence.
  1. Strangulation

Strangulation is often minimized or overlooked, but it is a chillingly common tactic in domestic violence cases and a powerful predictor of future lethality. Unlike other forms of physical abuse, strangulation leaves minimal external evidence. Strangulations however do lead to severe internal consequences, including brain damage or stroke, and of course, death.

The act of strangulation represents a significant escalation in violence and control, as it requires a deliberate and sustained effort to cut off someone’s air supply. Survivors of strangulation are at a much higher risk of being killed by their abusers in subsequent attacks, underscoring the urgent need for intervention and support for those who have experienced this form of abuse.

  1. Threats of suicide

Threats of suicide by abusers are another insidious tactic used to maintain power and control over their victims. By leveraging their own vulnerability, abusers manipulate their partners into silence or compliance, instilling a sense of guilt or responsibility for their well-being.

These threats create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, trapping victims in a cycle of abuse where escape feels impossible. They may also escalate to actual attempts of suicide or murder/suicide.

Understanding how and why these three key factors are so concerning is critical in efforts to combat violence and protect survivors. In fact, it could mean the difference between life and death.


The Greene County Family Justice Center is a non-profit collaborative of local agencies offering comprehensive services to survivors of domestic, sexual, and family violence. Our services are trauma-informed, survivor-centered, and we welcome survivors at any point in their process. We partner with local non-profit service providers as well as local law enforcement, the Prosecutor’s office, and Children’s Division to make victim services more accessible and completely voluntary. If you do not want to participate in the criminal justice process, we support you.

Our vision is a future where we all work together to meet the needs of domestic violence and human trafficking survivors through comprehensive and accessible services, education, and perpetrator accountability. Through a coordinated framework and co-located response, we strive to break the vicious generational cycle and community impact of domestic violence and resulting victimizations.

We can help you plan for your safety whether you plan to stay in the relationship, or you are actively trying to escape. All our services are free, confidential and survivor centered. Have questions about what services are available? Visit us at 1418 E. Pythian Street or give us a call at 417-874-2600. We are open 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. For after-hours assistance, call the Harmony House/Victim Center’s 24-hour safe line at 417-864-SAFE (7233). If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.