GENERAL FACTS ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Nearly 2 in 3 female victims of violence were related to or knew their attacker. (Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. iii) Over two-thirds of violent victimizations against women were committed by someone known to them: 31% of female victims reported that the offender was a stranger. Approximately 28% were intimates such as husbands or boyfriends, 35% were acquaintances, and the remaining 5% were other relatives. (In contrast, victimizations by intimates and other relatives accounted for only 5% of all violent victimizations against men. Men were significantly more likely to have been victimized by acquaintances (50%) or strangers (44%) than by intimates or other relatives.) (Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. 1) Almost 6 times as many women victimized by intimates (18%) as those victimized by strangers (3%) did not report their violent victimization to police because they feared reprisal from the offender. (Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. 1) Annually, compared to males, females experienced over 10 times as many incidents of violence by an intimate. On average each year, women experienced 572,032 violent victimizations at the hands of an intimate, compared to 48,983 incidents committed against men. (Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. 6) Battered women seek medical attention for injuries sustained as a consequence of domestic violence significantly more often after separation than during cohabitation; about 75% of the visits to emergency rooms by battered women occur after separation (Stark and Flitcraft, 1988). About 75% of the calls to law enforcement for intervention and assistance in domestic violence occur after separation from batterers. One study revealed that half of the homicides of female spouses and partners were committed by men after separation from batterers (Barbara Hart, Remarks to the Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, April 1992) Twenty years ago, the first battered women's shelter in the United States, Women's Advocates, was opened in St. Paul, Minnesota. This program is still in existence today. (NCADV VOICE Spring, 1994) There are 1,500 shelters for battered women in the United States. There are 3,800 animal shelters (Schneider, 1990). Each year, medical expenses from domestic violence total at least $3 to $5 billion. Businesses forfeit another $100 million in lost wages, sick leave, absenteeism and non-productivity. (Domestic Violence for Health Care Providers, 3rd Edition, Colorado Domestic Violence Coalition, 1991.) It is estimated that 25% of workplace problems such as absenteeism, lower productivity, turnover and excessive use of medical benefits are due to family violence. (Employee Assistance Providers/MN) Violence is the reason stated for divorce in 22% of middle-class marriages. (EAP Digest November/December 1991) From 1983 to 1991, the number of domestic violence reports received increased by almost 117%. (NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, 1983 and 1991).
WOMEN KILLED BY PARTNERS/SPOUSE
According to FBI statistics, 30% of female murder victims in 1990, the last year for which statistics are available, were killed by their husbands or boyfriends. That is approximately 3000 women. (Caroline Knapp, "A Plague of Murders: Open Season on Women, The Boston Phoenix, August 1992) In 1990, says the FBI, intimate enemies accounted for 30% of all women murder victims ("Doctors must join fight against domestic violence," USA Today, June 18, 1992, at 12-A) According to the Uniform Crime Report of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 30% of women killed in the United States die at the hands of a husband or boyfriend. In 1990, more than 800 women were killed by their husbands; 400 more were killed by their boyfriends. (Antonia C. Novello, "From the Surgeon General, U.S. Public Health Service, A Medical Response to Domestic Violence," Journal of the American Medial Association, June 17, 1992, p. 3132) One-third of all female homicide victims are killed by husbands, ex-husbands, boyfriends or ex-boyfriends. (NCJA Justice Research, "States, Federal Government Increasing Focus on Violence Against Women," September/October 1990, p. 3) More than twice as many women are killed by their husbands or boyfriends as are murdered by strangers. (Arthur Kellerman, "Men, Women and Murder," The Journal of Trauma, July 17, 1992, pp. 1-5) In a study of females killed by intimate partners between 1980-1982, it was found that the majority of women killed were married (57.7%, n=2,415). Girlfriends were the next highest percentage (24.5%, n-1,041), followed by common-law wives *8%, n-332), ex-wives (4.89%, n-205) and friends (4.675, n-196). (Karen Stout, "Intimate Femicide: A National Demographic Overview," Violence Update, Vol. 1, No. 6, February 1991, p. 3) More than 90 women were murdered every week in 1991 - 9 out of 10 were murdered by men. (Violence Against Women, A Majority Staff Report, Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 102nd Congress, October 1992, p. 2) Of the 5,745 women murdered in 1991, 6 out of 10 were killed by someone they knew. Half were murdered by a spouse or someone with whom they had been intimate. ("When Violence Hits Home," Time, July 4, 1994) Among all female victims in 1992, 29% were slain by boyfriends or husbands and 4% of male victims were slain by their wives or girlfriends. (Federal Bureau of Investigations, 1993).
BATTERED WOMEN WHO KILL
When women kill - and they do so at astonishingly lower rates than men who commit 85% of all homicides - the vast majority kill family members, usually men who have battered them for years. As many as 90% of the women in jail today for killing men had been battered by those men. (Allison Bass, "Women far less likely to kill than men; no one sure why," The Boston Globe, February 24, 1992, p. 27) Within motive categories, male offenders dominated in murders motivated by possessiveness (m=82$), abuse (m=75%), and arguments (m=63%), whereas females were the vast majority of offenders in the category of self-defense (f=83%). By comparison, among victims whose deaths were motivated by possessiveness females comprised 59% and males 41$ of the total. Similarly, among victims killed because of arguments females represented 56% and males 44$ of the total. For victims of abuse, though, females were 75% of the total, while victims of self-defense were 96% male. (from a study of 155 mate homicides in City of Jacksonville, Florida, 1980-1986). (Christine E. Rasche, "'Given' Reasons for Violence in Intimate Relationships," Homicide: The Victim/Offender Connection, ed. Anna Wilson (Cincinnati, OH: Anderson, 1993) p. 88) In Jurik and Winn's study of gender and homicide, 44% (22) of the women said that a precipitating event was partner conflict compared with 8% (9) of the men. Given this information, it is not surprising that a significantly greater percentage of women who killed stated that they acted in self-defense - 42% of the women versus 30% of the men. (Nancy Jurik and Russ Winn, "Gender and Homicide: A Comparison of Men and Women Who Kill," Violence and Victims, Vol. 5, No. 4, 1990, p. 236) A study conducted in Georgia of 226 (96%) of the 235 female inmates currently serving for homicide revealed the presence of domestic violence in more than half of the cases when the woman has killed her significant other, there is some record of a history of domestic abuse. In 60% of the cases where a woman killed her significant other, the woman claims the victim assaulted or abused her at the time of the crime. (Judith Haley, "A Study of Women Imprisoned for Homicide," Georgia Department of Corrections, June 1992, p. 16) According to data release in 1992 by the Georgia Department of Corrections, of the 235 women doing time for murder or manslaughter in Georgia, 44% killed a husband or lover. (J.O. Hansen, "Is Justice Taking a Beating?" The Atlanta Constitution, April 26, 1992, A1-A7) Of these murders, 102 were classified as domestic killings. Forty-six women (almost half) claim that their partners beat them regularly, and 38 of these 46 had repeatedly reported domestic violence to the police. (Kathleen O'Shea, "Women on Death Row," Women Prisoners: A Forgotten Population, Beverly Fletcher, Lynda Dixon Shaver, and Dreama Moon, eds., (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1993) p. 85) Currently there are 2,000 battered women in America who are serving prison time for defending their lives against their batterers. (Stacey Kabat, Remarks from presentation at Harvard School of Public Health, Center for Health Communication, June 1991) Women commit 17% of all homicides and a high percentage are committed in big cities such as Houston and Philadelphia. The fear, rage, and entrapment associated with abuse can lead a woman to strike out against her assailant for sheer survival. Unfortunately, killing is often a woman's safest alternative given the absence of police protection or its ineffectiveness due to state laws requiring injury in a "domestic" before an arrest is mandated. (Evan Stark, "Rethinking Homicide: violence, Race, and the Politics of Gender," International Journal of Health and Services, vol. 20, No. 1, 1990, p. 18) Four out of five victims of intimate offender resisted the assault. They passively resisted trying to get help, threatening or arguing, or using evasive action - twice as often as they actively resisted - using a weapon or fighting back. (Caroline Harlow, Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Female Victims of Violent Crime," Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 1991, p. 6) In a study of 155 mate homicides in City of Jacksonville, Florida, 1980-1986, at least seven of the 24 offenders who claimed that their actions were in self-defense were prosecuted by the state, and six of them were found guilty (one was found not guilty by reason of insanity). (Christine E. Rasche, "'Given' Reasons for Violence in Intimate Relationships," Homicide: The Victim/Offender Connection, ed. Anna Wilson (Cincinnati, OH: Anderson, 1993) p. 88) Among mate homicides motivated by possessiveness, there were about equal numbers of cases with verbal versus physical provocation, but for 58% of these cases there was no victim provocation at all. The absence of provocation was notable also for cases motivated by abuse (67% of which were unprovoked) and other reasons (68% unprovoked). For cases motivated by arguments, however, 44% involved physical or other provocation and another 25% had verbal provocations. Not surprisingly, for homicides motivated by self-defense, 71% entailed physical provocations by the victim, with another 25% having verbal provocations (including threats to kill). Only 4% of claimed self-defense cases involved no apparent provocation at all. (from a study of 155 mate homicides in City of Jacksonville, Florida, 1980-1986) (Christine E. Rasche, "'Given' Reasons for Violence in Intimate Relationships," Homicide: The Victim/Offender Connection, ed. Anna Wilson (Cincinnati, OH: Anderson, 1993) p. 95) In a study of 155 mate homicides in City of Jacksonville, Florida, 1980-1986, over half (56%) of these offenders either called the police themselves, confessed to the police, or both. Offenders who killed their victims in self-defense were the most likely to come forward (86%)), followed by those who killed as a result of abuse (75%), argument (66%), or for other reasons (61%). (Christine E. Rasche, "'Given' Reasons for Violence in Intimate Relationships," Homicide: The Victim/Offender Connection, ed. Anna Wilson (Cincinnati, OH: Anderson, 1993) p. 898) Although women comprise more than half of the U.S. population and 23% of all homicide victims, they committed only 14.7% of the homicides reported during the study (male/female ratio = 6.33). In contrast to men, who killed nonintimate acquaintances, strangers, or individuals of undetermined relationship in roughly 80% of cases, women killed their spouse in 31.4% of cases, an intimate acquaintance in 13.6% or a member of their family in 14.8% of cases. (Arthur Kellerman, "Men, Women and Murder," The Journal of Trauma, July 17, 1992, p. 2) Most of the women in prison for homicide had only one victim (95%). The 226 women killed 239 victims, generally their male significant other (117). Fifty;-three percent of the women killed their significant other. The significant other category comprises legal spouse, common-law spouse, lover and ex-spouse/lover. When the women killed a significant other, they generally admitted committing the crime (82%). (Judith Haley, "A Study of Women Imprisoned for Homicide," Georgia Department of Corrections, June 1992, p. 15) In 1992, the American Medical Association reported that as many as 1 in 3 women will be assaulted by a domestic partner in her lifetime - 4 million in any given year. ("When Violence Hits Home," Time, July 4, 1994) The average prison sentence of men who kill their women partners is 2 to 6 years. Women who kill their partners are sentenced on average to 15 years, despite the fact that most women who kill do so in self-defense (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1989). In two studies of homicide cases involving women who killed their partners, 75% and 44% of the women had been physically abused by them prior to the lethal incident. [Daniel and Harris (1982) in a pretrial study of women charged with homicide in Missouri] (Angela Browne and Kirk R. Williams, "Exploring the Effect of Resource Availability and the Likelihood of Female-Perpetrated Homicides," Law & Society Review, Vol. 23, No. 1, 1989, p.77), [In a study comparing the links between gender and homicide, 108 cases using data from court recorded presentence investigative resources were analyzed.] (Nancy Jurik and Russ Winn, "Gender and Homicide: A Comparison of Men and Women Who Kill, " Voices and Victims, Vol. 5, No. 4, 1990, p. 234).
RESPONSE FROM THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Police were more likely to respond within 5 minutes if the offender was a stranger than if an offender was known to the female victim. (Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. 9) Women charged in the death of a mate have the least extensive criminal records of any people convicted. However, they often face higher penalties than men who kill their mates. FBI statistics indicate that fewer men are charged with first- or second-degree murder for killing a woman they have known than are women who kill a man they have known. Women convicted of these killings are frequently sentenced to longer prison terms than are men. (Angela Browne, When Battered Women Kill, New York, NY: The Free Press, 1987, p. 11) The extremely long sentences women serve raises serious questions about the fairness of our criminal justice system. women testifying before the Committee on Domestic Violence and Incarcerated Women averaged sentences of 15 years. (Battered Women and Criminal Justice: The Unjust Treatment of Battered Women in a System Controlled By Men, A Report of the Committee on Domestic violence and Incarcerated Women, June 1987, pp. 3-4) 90% of all family violence defendants are never prosecuted, and one-third of the cases that would be considered felonies if committed by strangers are filed as misdemeanors (a lesser crime). (News from U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, September 2, 1993) If all occurring domestic violence were reported to the police by women, one-third of the incidents would be classified as felony rapes, robberies, or aggravated assaults and the remaining two-thirds would be classified as simple assaults. (National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, 1990) One out of every four men will use violence against a partner at some time in their relationship. (Violent No More, Michael Paymar, 1993, Hunter House) Many of the stats in this section come from the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women.