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Speaker notes area ahead of violence curve
Enumclaw seems to be ahead of many of its counterparts when it comes to joining forces and spreading awareness about domestic violence, but there’s still work to be done.
Enumclaw’s Domestic Violence Task Force brought Ankita Patel of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence to present its study of domestic violence homicides.
“The point is to improve the way we respond to domestic violence, fill the gaps, and to remember those victims lives; to share their stories,” Patel said. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. “It’s not just our duty to learn about his issue but to take steps domestic violence awareness.”
The coalition tracks domestic violence fatalities with case study analysis and looks for gaps and patterns.
Sixty-eight women, men and children were murdered by an abuser in the past two years, Patel noted.
Each year, between one-third and one-half of women murdered in Washington are killed by current or former intimate partners. In at least 47 percent of homicides by abusers, the victim had left the abuser or was leaving. Most victims range between 21 to 40 years old.
One of first steps is to make sure every call is documented and a report is filed. Enumclaw Police Lt. Eric Sortland said that happens here.
Patel said most domestic violence cases involve men abusing women, but not always. In her presentation, she noted 37 male domestic violence victirms were killed by a currrent or former wife or girlfriend; four more by a family abuser’s associate, and two by a current or former male intimate partner.
About 15 percent of domestic violence homicides were men killed by female partners, but Patel noted, many of those statistics were in self defense.
Women of color and immigrant woman are at greater risk due to cultural, language and legal immigration issues, Patel said.
Patel also said it’s important to educate the public about domestic violence issues and resources because victims call friends and family more than they call 911 or seek out protective orders or domestic violence programs.
Community education a key, she said, because often victims turn to family, friends and neighbors.
Another interesting statistic Patel presented was often–– abusers are suicidal and commit homicide first.
Audience member Rick Bathum, who serves as judge in King County District Court and deals with domestic violence cases, reminded those in attendance that there is one murder for every 300 domestic violence cases. He also said the Enumclaw and King County is one of the leaders in handling domestic violence cases from the first incident through the court system.
He and others in the room also briefly went through the checks and balances in the system to make sure folks are not wrongly accused.
The complete coalition study is available at Web site at www.wscadv.org.