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Homicide and Domestic Violence

Without effective early intervention, domestic violence can escalate in severity and lead to death. When domestic violence results in homicide, it is often a reflection of the community's failure to recognize the severity and potential lethality of the problem, and to address its critical role in early intervention.

When Battered Women Are Killed

When battered women are killed by their abusers, it frequently occurs after they have been separated from them or taken other action to end the relationship. Since society continues to question why women remain in abusive relationships, it is essential to consider how dangerous and difficult it often is for battered women to leave abusive partners. Many women stay because of a reasonable fear that they will suffer severe injury or death if they attempt to end the relationship.

Unfortunately, when batterers murder their partners these tragedies are usually portrayed as unintentional "crimes of passion" caused by the man's intense love for the woman and inability to live without her. Murder is, however, the ultimate expression of the batterer's need to control the woman's behavior.

Available statistics present a chilling picture of the potential lethality of male violence against their female partners.

FBI data indicate that 30% of female homicide victims are killed by their husbands or boyfriends. This translates into the death of four women per day at the hands of male partners.

In-depth research on all one-on-one murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases from 1980-84 found that more than one-half of female victims were killed by male partners.
Battered Women Who Kill

Research shows that when women kill it is much more likely to be in self-defense than when men perpetrate homicide. Battered women who resort to homicide have often tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to obtain protection from their abusers. If the community fails to help ensure battered women's safety through law enforcement and other systems, it runs the risk that lives will be lost.

A Police Foundation study in Detroit and Kansas City found that in 85 to 90% of "partners" homicides, police had been called to the home at least once during the two years preceding the incident; in more than half of these cases they had been called five times or more.

A Cook County (Illinois) Dept. of Corrections study of a Chicago women's prison found that 40% if inmates incarcerated for murder or manslaughter had killed partners who repeatedly assaulted them. These women had sought police protection at least five times before resorting to homicide.

A California state prison study found that 93% of the women who had killed their mates had been battered by them; 67% of these women indicated the homicide resulted from an attempt to protect themselves or their children.

In reality, only a very small percent of battered women kill their abusers to end the violence. Most suffer in silence or are able to leave the relationship. Several studies have attempted to learn why a small percent of battered women resort to homicide. These studies have found that many women who kill in self-defense:

  • Suffer frequent and severe abuse;
  • Are victims of often brutal sexual assault;
  • Are frequently threatened with death, especially if they attempt to leave;
  • Are caught and beaten if they leave the abuser;
  • Suffer severe psychological abuse, such as being beaten in front of others or being forced to watch the batterer kill a pet; and
  • Are socially isolated and often imprisoned in their homes.

Studies have found that many women have killed their abusers to protect their children from physical or sexual abuse.

A research study by Browne and Williams has been able to correlate an increase in legal protections services for battered women with a decrease in the number of homicides committed by women against male partners. From 1979 to 1984, this type of homicide decreased by more than 25%.

National Woman Abuse Prevention Project

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE and HOMICIDE PREVENTION

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS NOT ONE ACT. IF A MAN HITS HIS WIFE, PARTNER, OR DATE, HE PROBABLY HAS DONE IT BEFORE AND HE WILL DO IT AGAIN. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OFTEN ESCALATES. IT CAN AND DOES END IN DEATH.
"Preventing Domestic Violence Against Women", Bureau of Justice Statistics, United State Department of Justice, l986.

ONE OUT OF FIVE WOMEN VICTIMIZED BY HUSBANDS/EX-HUSBANDS, AND ONE OUT OF 6 WOMEN VICTIMIZED BY BOYFRIENDS HAVE BEEN ASSAULTED AT LEAST THREE TIMES IN THE PREVIOUS SIX MONTHS.
"Female Victims of violent Crime", Bureau of Justice Statistics, January, l99l.

75% OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INCIDENTS REPORTED TO THE POLICE OCCUR AFTER THE VICTIM OF MURDER WERE KILLED BY A MALE PARTNER.
"Female Victims of violent Crime", Bureau of Justice Statistics, January, l99l.

IN 1989, THE F.B.I. REPORTED THAT 28% OF FEMALE VICTIMS OF MURDER WERE KILLED BY A MALE PARTNER.
Crime in the United States, Uniform Crime Reports.for the United States for l988 and l989 published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

IN 1988, THE F.B.I. REPORTED THAT FOUR WOMEN WERE MURDERED BY A MALE PARTNER EVERY DAY.
Crime in the United States, Uniform Crime Reports.for the United States for 1988 and 1989 published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

IMPORTANT SAFETY ALERT!


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