Family Center: Advocates Alarmed as Domestic Violence Death Toll Reaches New High
For the City Times
Toll Reaches New High in First Half of 2016
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin is calling attention to the disturbing number of domestic violence homicides that occurred during the first six months of this year.
The agency says the preliminary count of domestic violence-related deaths for the first half of 2016, 39 deaths, is almost 70-percent higher than average, and it represents a one-third increase over the previous high, which occurred from January to June of 2009. End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin has been tracking domestic violence homicides and homicide-suicides since 2000.
“We believe communities should be aware of what appears to be an alarming trend so they can act to reverse it,” said Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin (End Abuse). “At the same time we grieve over those we have lost, we must strengthen our resolve to save lives going forward. Domestic violence homicides are predictable and are therefore preventable.”
End Abuse points to a wide range of inventions and solutions to prevent domestic violence from turning deadly. For example, the groups says Coordinated Community Response Teams, or CCRs, which are comprised of key local players who respond to domestic violence situations, can make a huge difference.
“We urge Coordinated Community Response Teams to examine their community’s response to domestic abuse and to consider how they can adopt best practices and enhance collaboration,” said Seger. “According to national data, over 40 percent of domestic violence homicide perpetrators were arrested within a year prior to the killing. We are heading up an effort to increase the number of jurisdictions in Wisconsin that use evidence-based risk assessment protocols to identify these high-risk individuals. Once the warning signs of lethal violence are recognized, communities can focus resources and attention on these families.”
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin’s 2014 Wisconsin Domestic Violence Homicide Report contains an in-depth discussion of the top warning signs of lethal abuse. These include use of or threats with a weapon, threats to kill, strangulation, forced sex and the presence of a gun in the home.
Related to firearms, advocates say one simple legislative change would significantly lower the domestic violence
“Most domestic violence homicides are committed with guns. States with universal background checks on all gun sales experience 46 percent fewer gun-related homicides of battered women. And, 80 to 90 percent of the public supports background checks,” said Seger. “If politicians would agree to this popular and commonsense change, we would take a huge step forward in preventing a large portion of domestic violence homicides.”
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence is the leading voice for victims of domestic abuse in Wisconsin. At End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, they educate shelter and program volunteers and advocates, law enforcement, legislators, and community members to provide safety and support to survivors.
Fifty-eight-percent of the 2016 domestic violence deaths involved firearms, which is slightly higher than the average proportion of gun-related killings. Seger also notes that long-term solutions to domestic abuse are attitude changes on the individual and societal levels.
“While we must continue to improve the laws and systems that respond to violence, we also need to invest in promoting healthy relationships. Abuse in intimate relationships occurs because one partner feels they have the right to control and degrade the other person. Over the long term, stopping violence requires changing the beliefs that support it.”
Lastly, Seger urged anyone who believes they are in an unsafe relationship to seek help from a domestic abuse service provider. “The research shows that the single most important step a victim of domestic abuse can take is to connect with an advocate at local service provider,” said Seger.
A 2001 study found that only four percent of female domestic violence homicide victims had used a domestic violence hotline or shelter within the year prior to being killed by an intimate partner. Seger continued, “We want survivors to know help is available in all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and 11 tribes. An advocate is there to listen, to offer support and to give options to improve safety.”
End Abuse typically does not release homicide statistics midyear but is doing so now because local advocates have called attention to the high-rate of deaths over the last several months, which was confirmed by a review of previous years’ data.
The Wisconsin Rapids Family Center, 500 25th St. N., provides services at no cost to all victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. Help is available 24 hours a day, every day, at 715-421-1511.
For more information, go to The Family Center’s website at www.familyctr.org, and follow The Family Center on Facebook and Twitter. Listen for The Family Center’s monthly update on WFHR 1320 AM’s Morning Magazine at 10:30 a.m. the fourth Tuesday of the month, and watch “Family Center Focus” on Wisconsin Rapids Community Media.