108 North Carolinians killed by domestic violence in 2013
Release date: 3/31/2014
Drop in murders a hopeful sign, but more help, enforcement needed to fight DV
Raleigh: A total of 108 North Carolinians lost their lives in domestic violence murders in 2013, a decrease of 14 from the previous year, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.
“Any drop in murders is a hopeful sign, but for every abusive relationship that ends with a tragic death, many more victims continue to suffer,” Cooper said. “We must continue to fight this dangerous crime and help victims escape abuse.”
2013 Data on Domestic Violence Murders
Law enforcement agencies are required to report domestic violence related homicides yearly to the State Bureau of Investigation under a state law enacted in 2007.
Of the domestic violence murders reported in the state last year, 62 of the victims were female and 46 were male. The murders were committed by 88 male offenders and 27 female offenders.
Five of the 108 victims had taken out protective orders and three of the protective orders were current when the victims were murdered. One of the offenders was reported to be on pre-trial release for a domestic violence crime when the murder was committed.
Guilford County reported the highest number of domestic violence murders last year, 11. Mecklenburg County ranked second with nine domestic violence murders reported, while Wake and Buncombe counties tied for the third most domestic violence murders with eight each. Durham County ranked fourth with six domestic violence homicides reported, and Harnett County ranked fifth with five. The complete report on domestic violence murders includes data for all 100 counties.
The decline in domestic violence murders last year in North Carolina is consistent with FBI preliminary crime statistics which show a 6.9 percent drop in all murders nationwide during the first six months of 2013. Final statewide 2013 crime statistics for North Carolina will be available later this year.
Tools to Fight Domestic Violence
Domestic violence murders may be down from the previous year, but domestic violence remains a problem in communities across North Carolina. Fighting it will take more resources for domestic violence victims, better enforcement of laws against abusers, and increased education and awareness, Cooper and advocates said.
"Every day, Domestic Violence Centers across our state leverage all available resources to provide critical support and in many cases lifesaving refuge for victims of domestic violence. Sadly, these centers must turn away some in need when resources are exhausted, which is why the Coalition Against Domestic Violence will continue to advocate strongly at all levels for full funding of domestic violence programs in 2014 and beyond,” said Dana Mangum, Interim Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Domestic violence centers assist victims with counseling, housing, legal advocacy, and safety tools, such as protective orders and the Attorney General’s Address Confidentiality Program.
“Local shelters are a safe haven for people trying to leave an abusive situation, and we need to make sure that shelters get the funding they need,” Cooper said.
Protective orders, court orders put in place to restrain defendants from further acts of violence against victims, can be a good safety tools for victims. These protective orders, also known as 50B orders after the relevant chapter of the NC General Statutes, are often tailored to fit specific circumstances. Advocates recommend that protective orders be considered in conjunction with a victim’s overall safety plan.
Under a new law passed last year, consent protective orders without findings of fact and conclusions of law must now be enforced like traditional protective orders, which could make it easier for some victims to get protection under the law.
Violations of protective orders should be reported to local law enforcement. Cooper says local governments and legislators need to provide more resources so law enforcement can act quickly to enforce the law against abusers who violate protective orders.
“Law enforcement officers see all too often the damage that domestic violence causes families,” Cooper said. “When abusers defy protective orders, a rapid response from law enforcement can help save lives.”
A victim’s safety plan may also include the Address Confidentiality Program provided by Cooper’s office.
The Address Confidentiality Program helps people who have escaped domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking keep their addresses shielded from abusers. Victims who move to escape abuse can join the program and have their first-class mail sent to an address chosen by the Attorney General's office. Mail is then forwarded to victims’ home addresses, which are kept secret. People can also use the substitute address to register to vote, get a driver license, or sign up for utilities like water and electricity.
A total of 981 participants and their dependents are currently enrolled in the Address Confidentiality Program, which started in 2003. People sign up for the program through local domestic violence shelters, sexual assault shelters and victim assistance centers.
“Tools like protective orders and our Address Confidentiality Program can help domestic violence survivors protect their safety. Anyone who could benefit from these tools should contact their local domestic violence shelter to learn more,” Cooper said.
[All reports on domestic violence homicides in North Carolina are available online at www.ncdoj.gov.]
Contact: Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413