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Honoring Their Lives, Learning From Their Deaths: Findings and Recommendations From the Washington State Domestic Violence Fatality Review

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2000
16 pages
This document provides an overview of domestic violence homicide in the State of Washington.
In Washington, the number of female victims of intimate partner homicide has remained fairly steady through the 1990's, with an average of 25 women killed per year between 1990 and 1999. About 30 percent of female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners. Between January 1997 and August 2000, 91 women were killed by their current or former male intimate partners. An additional 35 people were killed in domestic violence-related fatalities. These included the children, friends, and family of the abused women. Two law enforcement officers were killed by abusers as they intervened in domestic violence. The Washington State Domestic Violence Fatality Review (DVFR) has tracked 130 domestic violence-related fatalities from all over the State between January 1997 and August 2000. One finding of this review was that when battered women and their violent partners came into contact with social service, civil, and criminal justice systems, attention to victim safety was minimal, inconsistent, or nonexistent. Community education must teach community members how to identify abuse, how to talk to victims, and how to report and stay safe. When domestic violence and a history of suicidal behaviors co-exist, this increases the risk of homicidal behavior toward an abuser’s intimate partner and loved ones. Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) should develop cooperative relationships with local domestic violence programs in order to facilitate getting support, information, safety planning, and services to battered women. Teens may make themselves vulnerable to one another in very short periods of time and can quickly get into abusive relationships. All professionals that intervene in domestic violence should examine their own attitudes and biases about women that have limited English-speaking ability and/or come from immigrant/refugee communities. Washington State should bring its laws in line with Federal laws that prohibit gun ownership for persons subject to domestic violence-related court orders.