As we celebrate Domestic Violence Awareness Month across America, the struggle to reduce and prevent domestic violence and related sexual assault rages. Each week this month approximately 20 women, men, children, and police officers have died in family violence related incidents (an average of four per day). Last week, the Topeka City Council decriminalized domestic violence in an effort to save money. Sadly, many communities are prosecuting less abusers and holding less violent offenders accountable for their violence against women, children, and men even though they don’t get the attention like Topeka. Even with strong support from the Obama Administration, less and less resources are available in local communities even as the amount and type of violence increases. And as I write today, we are in week 12 of a series of domestic violence mass murders or near mass murders that have swept across America. Not including the daily array of murders and murder-suicides, forty-six people have died in nine domestic violence-related murders since July 8, 2011 and there has been no national media or public awareness about this epidemic of deaths.
Sadly, few are really seeing the big picture and it is not a national media story. But a series of twenty Yahoo and Google Alerts monitored by the National Family Justice Center Alliance on a daily basis, tell the story of the recent mass or near-mass murders. As we all speak and reach out to others to raise awareness about domestic violence, let’s speak in memory of those that have died in recent weeks. And let’s raise our voices loud enough to be heard.
Under FBI guidelines, a mass murder is fourth deaths without a cooling off period. One of the recent killings listed below misses the mass murder definition because three died and the other because the two pastors with gunshot wounds to the head are still alive – though one remains in critical condition. As domestic violence movement leaders gather in Salt Lake City in a few weeks for the National Domestic Violence Conference we will be looking closely at what can be done to respond to this deeply troubling trend toward mass murders and family annihilation killings. But even as we prepare for that conference, here is the news story, mass murder story that has not been told.
DV Mass Murders in Recent Weeks
What can we all do? Educate yourself about the sobering statistics by reviewing the research from the National Network to End Domestic Violence and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Then, speak out! Question the failures of systems to collaborate and respond earlier and more effectively to dangerous domestic violence offenders. Demand more attention to the issue of family violence from elected officials and local policy makers. Support local domestic violence shelters, Family Justice Centers, and other programs seeking to provide help and support to victims and their children. Refuse to let any woman, child, or man die in vain. Occupy Wall Street has spread like a wildfire across America in recent weeks. Where is our outrage over the American citizens dying every day in family violence-related incidents? We need so many more people to know the truth and demand more focus on this public health epidemic. Perhaps the loud voices of those who care will cause more to be aware.