SAVI creates powerful tools to quantify and help prevent domestic violence

Our Partner

Domestic Violence Network

The Challenge

Domestic violence records are scattered across various parts of the criminal-justice system, which makes accurate records difficult to come by—and hinders the work of advocacy organizations.

The Solution

SAVI analysts and the Domestic Violence Network have created a database that integrates the records of the various agencies and institutions, making it possible to get an accurate count of victims and perpetrators over time.

The Process

Victims of domestic violence can become invisible in more ways than one.

Many victims don’t report the incident because they fear retaliation. But even the reported incidents often “disappear” inside a system that isn’t well equipped to synthesize and report data about the extent and nature of domestic violence in the U.S.

That’s because records are scattered across a variety of courts, agencies, and institutions. The upshot is that there are duplicate records located across various datasets, so it has been difficult to get an accurate count of victims and suspects across time. And this lack of reliable data makes the work of victims’ advocates much more difficult.

A multi-year collaboration between the Polis Center and the Domestic Violence Network (DVN) is solving that problem for Marion County.

SAVI analysts have developed technology solutions that allow the scattered datasets to be integrated, so that duplicate people are matched across all datasets. The integrated database produces reliable statistics on the number of victims and suspects; the location of incidents; the number of perpetrators and repeat offenders; and more. It can be easily updated each year.

These insights allow advocate organizations to target their strategies and outreach efforts more effectively, and they create metrics that show how the number of domestic violence victims is changing over time.

“We can use this information to create better strategies to end domestic violence and help victims in our community.”

Kelly McBride
Executive Director, Domestic Violence Network

The database also powers an online dashboard that SAVI and DVN launched in December 2018, with the goal of making the information more accessible and usable by media, advocates, and policymakers. It’s available at

The dashboard features interactive maps and charts and information about domestic violence victims, perpetrators, and incidents in Marion County, including the number of incidents, suspects, victims, and arrests by county. Users can also view a map that illustrates where cases of domestic violence are most likely to occur.

“The online dashboard provides public access to data and trends about domestic violence that have never before been available for Marion County,” says Sharon Kandris, associate director of The Polis Center.

In January 2018, DVN released a report about domestic violence in Marion County, drawn from information in the database. It noted that 1.2 percent of Marion County’s population were victims of domestic violence in 2016, based on reports in the legal system. Unreported incidents are not included in that statistic. Low-income areas in Marion County averaged 9.3 victims per 1,000 people in 2016, compared to an overall average of 5.5 incidents.

Together, the database and dashboard create an unprecedented level of transparency and provide advocates with powerful new tools to analyze and fight domestic violence.

“In the past, it has been difficult to report basic facts about the scope of domestic violence in Marion County, because data is spread across many agencies and parts of the criminal justice system,” says Kelly McBride, executive director of DVN. “By improving upon our ability to report on the state of domestic violence in Marion County by matching data from various local agencies and organizations that work with domestic violence victims and perpetrators, we can use this information to create better strategies to end domestic violence and help victims in our community.”