ABSTRACT This article explores the issue of severity in relation to domestic violence and provides a number of reasons for the necessary engagement by workers with such a contentious issue. The specific role that the assessment of the risks posed by the perpetrator which has now developed in some police forces in the United Kingdom is examined, and its relevance to child welfare intervention discussed. A range of factors are identified that heighten the risks of increased violence. These include prior sexual assault; stalking and controlling behaviour; substance misuse and mental-health problems; separation and child contact disputes; pregnancy; escalation including the use of weapons and psychological abuse; attempts and threats to kill; child abuse; isolation and barriers to help-seeking. The ways in which perpetrator risk assessment can be used to inform the filtering of referrals to the statutory child care agency, enhance multi-agency working, provide a structure for the assessment of the perpetrator, enhance partnership-working with survivors (usually women) and inform the protection strategies for workers are explored.