This study described the frequency and types of justice services used prior to an attempted or completed femicide by an intimate partner.
The data came from a 10-city control study of 821 women. A total of 437 victims of attempted or completed femicide were identified from police and medical examiner records. Interviews with attempted femicide victims and with proxies for the victims of completed femicides were compared with data from abused control subjects. Levels of violence and demographic characteristics of users and nonusers of justice services were compared. Results show that 48 percent of femicide victims, 55 percent of attempted femicide victims, and 22 percent of abused control subjects contacted justice services within 12 months of the attempted or completed femicide or most severe abuse incident. The most common contact among the attempted and completed femicide victims was to report stalking to law enforcement. For the abused control subjects, the perpetrator’s previous arrest for domestic violence was the most common contact. The percentage of attempted and completed femicide victims using justice services differed by racial or ethnic affiliation. Among the control subjects, justice services use was shown to be significantly associated with race or ethnicity. The percentage of users that were African-American was twice the percentage of nonusers that were African-American. The Hispanic victims of attempted or completed femicide were among the lowest users of criminal justice services. This research confirms a significant relationship between severity of abuse and use of justice services within 12 months of an attempted or completed femicide. Comprehensive services including lethality assessment, shelter, counseling, and legal assistance offered routinely by the justice system could promote women’s safety and possibly interrupt and prevent further abuse. 6 tables, 2 footnotes, 28 references