Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges

Published June 2009

Chapter 1. Overview of Domestic Violence

Section 6 — How widespread is fatal domestic violence?

According to the Supplementary Homicide Reports of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program in 2005, 1,181 females and 329 males were killed by their intimate partners. [27] The number of men killed has dropped by almost three-quarters since 1976 whereas the number of women killed has only dropped by a quarter. The number of white females killed has declined the least — only 6 percent. Intimate partner homicides constituted 11 percent of all homicides between 1976 and 2005, 30 percent of all female murders (1976-2004), and 3 percent of all male murders (1976-2005). The proportion of female homicide victims killed by an intimate partner is increasing. Unlike nonfatal domestic violence, most intimate partner homicides (54 percent) involve spouses or ex-spouses, although intimate partner homicides for unmarried couples are approaching the rate for married or divorced couples.

Intimate partner homicides may also involve third parties, including children, bystanders, employers and lawyers, among others. For example, according to the Washington State Domestic Violence Fatality Review, between 1997 and 2004, there were 313 domestic violence fatality cases in that state involving 416 homicides, including 23 children, 32 friends/family members of primary intimate partner victims, 19 new boyfriends of primary intimate victims, one co-worker of the primary intimate victim, three law enforcement officers responding to the intimate partner homicide, 9 abusers killed by law enforcement, and 10 abusers killed by a friend or family member of victims. Additionally, 93 abusers committed suicide after killing their victim(s). [199]

Implications for Law Enforcement

To reduce female homicides generally, law enforcement must give priority to the protection of female intimate partners. (Research basis: National data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.)

Implications for Prosecutors and Judges

To reduce female homicides generally, prosecutors and judges must give priority to the protection of female intimates. Reduction of female intimate homicides will also reduce collateral homicides of children, other family members, and responding law enforcement officers as well as reducing abuser suicides. (Research basis: National data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and multiple state and local fatality reviews.)

Date Created: June 5, 2009