Cincinnati Takes New Tack on Domestic Violence

City will start a Domestic Violence Emergency Response Team in which advocates will join police officers on calls for service for domestic violence. One-fourth of the Cincinnati’s homicides involve intimate partner violence.

Cincinnati will launch a Domestic Violence Emergency Response Team (DVERT) next month to provide more support for victims, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Instead of waiting until the next day to respond to incidents, advocates will now respond directly with officers to calls for service for domestic violence. While police are working to solve crimes, advocates are finding places for victims to stay, making sure they have a way to get to work or school and connecting them to other social services. Through the changing partnership, police and the women’s group hope to interrupt the cycle of domestic violence. Assistant Police Chief Mike John said advocates and police can have the biggest impact during the initial response.”There’s a window of opportunity that exists that the DVERT program can help with,” he said. “We don’t always have the skill set, or are limited in those social services, especially with victims and children.” That’s why the new partnership links advocates and police at the scene.

The new program is starting because victim advocates and police felt the pressure to address what Kristin Smith-Shrimplin of the group Women Helping Women calls a “public health epidemic.” Every day in the U.S., three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner on average, says the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Nearly half of female homicide victims are murdered by an intimate partner. For males, that number is just below 5 percent. In Cincinnati, about a quarter of all 2016 homicides involved an offender who was either directly engaged in a domestic assault at the time of the offense or who had a history of domestic or sexual assault. Intimate partner violence makes up 15 percent of  U.S. violent crime.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Conyers’ Son Wasn’t Charged In L.A. Domestic Dispute

John Conyers III, the son who former U.S. Rep. John Conyers wants to succeed him in Congress, was arrested in Los Angeles this year on suspicion of domestic violence but was not prosecuted due to a lack of third-party witnesses. The resigned congressman’s great-nephew is also running for the same seat.

John Conyers III, the son who former U.S. Rep. John Conyers wants to succeed him in Congress, was arrested in Los Angeles earlier this year on suspicion of domestic violence but was not prosecuted due to a lack of third-party witnesses, the Detroit News reports. A worksheet from the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office shows a woman he was dating alleged that Conyers III “body slammed her on the bed and then on the floor where he pinned her down and spit on her” after he accused her of cheating on him. Conyers III called 911 after the altercation and told police the woman had pulled a knife on him. He said he had disarmed her and she was injured during the struggle.

The woman suffered a stab wound. The Feb. 15 arrest was  reported by NBC News one day after Rep. Conyers resigned while denying sexual harassment claims by former staffers and endorsed his son in the race to succeed him. In the Los Angeles case, “It cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt” that the woman’s injury “was not accidentally sustained while (Conyers III) was disarming her,” wrote deputy district attorney Natasha Cooper. Conyers III, 27, has never held elected office and has not discussed his potential candidacy since his father endorsed him. The former congressman’s great-nephew, state Sen. Ian Conyers of Detroit, has said he is running for the same seat.  Conyers III has described himself online as a hedge fund manager and “multi-discipline consultant” who splits his time between Detroit and Los Angeles. Conyers III caused an ethics problem in 2010, when the congressman had to reimburse the U.S. Treasury $5,682 for his son’s misuse of his taxpayer-funded Cadillac Escalade.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Media Are Key to Battling Myths About Domestic Violence, Panel Told

In an era of falling crime rates, spousal abuse often disappears from the radar screen of public attention. But journalists can play a critical role in providing context—and help prevent future tragedies, speakers at a John Jay College panel said Tuesday.

The media can play a critical role in battling stereotypes about domestic violence—most importantly in puncturing myths that blame the victim rather than the perpetrator, speakers at a New York panel discussion on media coverage said Tuesday.

“We’re happy to see that this issue is covered a lot,” said Sandhya Kajeepeta, director of Research and Evaluation at the New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (MOCDV).

Sandhya Kajepeeta

Sandhya Kajepeeta. Photo by Megan Hadley

But she noted that recent research of media coverage by her office showed that reporting often fails to mention relevant research or to utilize the expertise of practitioners who can put incidents in context.

Just as importantly, journalists can help alert potential victims to warning signals and lead them to organizations in local communities that can help, she said at the panel, co-hosted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and John Jay’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice.

The event, which was live streamed to an audience across the country, noted that domestic violence continues to be a growing concern to police and social service providers, even while overall crime rates have dropped in many U.S. cities.

According to the MOCDV study, the number of family-related homicides in New York City, which has otherwise seen one of the nation’s longest sustained declines in crime, increased by 28.6 percent between 2015 and 2016. Over 60 percent of those homicides were directly related to intimate partner violence.

But covering the story sometimes puts reporters and survivors at loggerheads.

Destiny Mabry

Destiny Mabry. Photo by Megan Hadley

Destiny Mabry, a Bronx, NY activist who was a victim of intimate partner violence, recalled feeling uncomfortable when reporters pushed her to talk about her abusive relationship.

“It’s important to share experiences, but if someone is not willing to share more than ‘I’m a survivor,’ they should not have to go into gruesome detail,” said Mabry. who now serves as a “peer leader’ in a New York City program that hosts workshops with young people to discuss domestic violence.

“In the age of social media, everyone wants every detail,” she added.

Melissa Jeltsen, a senior reporter at The Huffington Post, agreed that the interests of survivors and reporters are sometimes completely opposite.

For instance, she said, reporters need specific dates to create a timeline, while survivors may not remember (or want to remember) the order of events.

“You want your readers to connect with a real story,” she said, noting that a lot of the specifics are red flags that can help prevent the next tragedy.

Jeltsen, whose beat includes gender-based violence issues, said educating readers about how to prevent domestic violence should be an important part of media coverage—even though talking about prevention is not as “sexy.”

According to Kajepeeta, media coverage should start with the recognition of its power to reach victims of abuse.

Every story, she suggested, should contain when possible a hotline number or contact information about a service center.

The MOCDV media guide, she said, could help journalists and editors access resources that deepen their coverage.

The research study examined domestic violence coverage by print news outlets in the New York metropolitan region between 2013-2016.

Among its findings:

  • Only ten of the 442 articles (2.3 percent) covering NYC intimate partner homicides from 2013-16 included an intimate partner violence advocate or expert as a source.’
  • Only 15 percent of articles used terms such as “domestic violence,” “intimate partner violence,” or “domestic abuse,” and less than eight percent of the articles described the homicide as being intimate partner violence-related.
  • Less than six percent of the articles studied framed the homicide within the broader social problem of intimate partner violence.
  • Only seven articles (1.6 percent) listed intimate partner violence resources for readers.

But Jeltsen pointed out that journalists often themselves encounter stereotypes promoted by police and other officials when they try to report on domestic violence incidents.

She recalled interviewing police who claim that “women never want to press charges and they’ll go back to their abuser anyway.”

That helps to reinforce the approach of many officials who say ‘there’s nothing we can do,’ ” Jeltsen said.

Melissa Jeltsen

Melissa Jeltsen. Photo by Megan Hadley

But the media has also been a key force in bringing the issue to the forefront. Following the mass killing in Sutherland Springs, Tx last month, journalists uncovered the history of domestic abuse perpetrated by the shooter.

After the tragedy occurred, the media was responsible for uncovering Kelley’s previous abuse history.

“A lot of the data (on domestic abuse) is not collected in a systematic way,” said Kajeepeta, noting that the media are key to uncovering information that is otherwise concealed by bureaucracy.

New York is among the jurisdictions that have launched a special effort to educate citizens about abusive behavior and assist survivors. Following the launch of a city Task Force a year ago, more than $11 million has been earmarked to improve and expand local services.

Editor’s Note: Additional resources for coverage of Intimate Partner Violence are available through the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 

A full report of the live stream panel discussion will be available online.

Megan Hadley is a news intern with The Crime Report. Readers’ comments are welcomed.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Shelters Open For Male Domestic Violence Victims

The number of male victims calling the National Domestic Abuse Hotline has doubled in seven years. A Dallas group has opened the second shelter in the U.S. exclusively for male victims, following the opening of a male shelter in Arkansas.

A Texas group has opened what’s believed to be only the second shelter in the U.S. exclusively for men who are victims of domestic violence, as advocates say more men are seeking help amid changing views about male victims, reports the Associated Press. “We’re trying to help men understand that it’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to have emotions. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to be vulnerable,” said Paige Flink of The Family Place in Dallas. Before opening the 21-bed shelter in a two-story home Flink’s organization, like many others, housed male victims in hotels. Not only was that becoming costly as the numbers grew, it also wasn’t an ideal arrangement for victims to get support. “They get a lot of growth from being together,” she said.

The number of male victims calling the National Domestic Abuse Hotline and its youth-focused project — loveisrespect — has been growing. Last year, about 12,000 male victims called, about 9 percent of victims who identified their gender. That’s double the about 5,800 male victim callers from 2010, said spokeswoman Cameka Crawford. “We believe that there are likely many more men who may not report or seek help for a number of reasons,” she said. Flink said her organization has sheltered men abused by male partners, female partners or relatives. Some men bring their children. Flink believes one reason her group has seen an increase in male victims has to do with how Dallas police have been handling domestic abuse calls: They ask a series of questions and if someone is believed to be in danger, that person is immediately put on the phone with a shelter. The first shelter in the U.S. solely for men opened two years ago in Batesville, Ar., a town of 11,000.

from https://thecrimereport.org

When Men Murder Women

Alaska has the highest rate of femicide by men, followed by Nevada, Louisiana, and Tennessee, according to the annual report of the Violence Policy Center (VPI) . Black women are more than twice as likely to be killed by men than their white counterparts.

The latest analysis of state-level homicide data shows a sharp increase in the rate at which women were slain by single men between 2014 and 2015 despite an overall 20-year decline, according to an annual report released by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) in September.

The 20th annual publication of When Men Murder Women analyzed the most recent Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data submitted to the FBI, which covers the year 2015, and offers a breakdown of cases in the ten states with the highest rates of female homicides committed by men. Alaska had the highest femicide rate, followed by Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Texas, New Mexico, and Missouri. VPC notes that data from Florida and Alabama are missing, and data received from Illinois is incomplete.

The study, which only examined instances involving one female victim and one male offender, found that 1,686 females were murdered by males in the U.S. in 2015.

“This is the exact scenario—the lone male attacker and the vulnerable woman—that is often used to promote gun ownership among women,” write the authors, zooming in on VPC’s main target: gun laws. For 2015, firearms, and especially handguns, were the weapon most commonly used by men to murder women.

The report also notes the findings of a 2003 study from California which showed that while two-thirds of women who get a handgun do so for for protection, “purchasing a handgun provides no protection against homicide among women and is associated with an increase in their risk for intimate partner homicide.”

Editor’s note: According to the Gun Violence Archive, out of 46,597 incidents of gun violence so far this year, only 1,518 incidents were “defensive use” of a firearm– roughly equal to the number of accidental shootings, which numbered 1,511.

Here are highlights from VPC’s analysis of 2015 data on women slain by men:

  • For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 93 percent of female victims (1,450 out of 1,551) were murdered by a male they knew.
  • Fourteen times as many females were murdered by a male they knew (1,450 victims) than were killed
    by male strangers (101 victims).
  • For victims who knew their offenders, 64 percent (928) of female homicide victims were wives or
    intimate acquaintances of their killers.12
  • There were 266 women shot and killed by either their husband or intimate acquaintance during the
    course of an argument.
  • Nationwide, for homicides in which the weapon could be determined (1,522), more female homicides were committed with firearms (55 percent) than with any other weapon. Knives and other cutting instruments accounted for 20 percent of all female murders, bodily force 11 percent, and murder by blunt object six percent. Of the homicides committed with firearms, 69 percent were committed with handguns.
  • In 84 percent of all incidents where the circumstances could be determined, homicides were not related
    to the commission of any other felony, such as rape or robbery.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) turned 23 this year.

Victoria Mckenzie is deputy editor of The Crime Report. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Estranged Husband Killed Eight in Texas Rampage

Mother of slain daughter says her husband was responsible for the killings in Plano, Tx., at a football watching party. Seven people were pronounced dead at the home and another died at a hospital. A police officer killed the attacker.

The family of a 27-year-old woman who was slain with seven other people Sunday night at a Plano, Tx., house said her estranged husband went on a deadly rampage before a police officer fatally shot him, the Dallas Morning News reports. Debbie Lane, mother of Meredith Hight, told WFAA-TV that her daughter had been hosting a football watch party. Meredith Hight filed for divorce this summer from Spencer Hight. Seven people were pronounced dead at the home and two were rushed to the hospital, one of whom later died, said Police Chief Gregory Rushin.

“We’re one of the safest cities in the country,” Rushin said. “We’ve never had a shooting of this magnitude.” Authorities were called to the home about 8 p.m. Sunday when shots were fired. A nearby officer who responded heard more gunfire from inside the home and saw victims in the backyard. He entered the house and fatally shot the gunman. The couple were married in 2011 but stopped living together in March. A friend of Meredith Hight said, “I always felt that their arguing got kind of ugly sometimes. He would say something to her and I would think, ‘Wow, if my husband ever spoke to me like that — I can’t believe he does that.’ And then she’d turn around and give it right back to him.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Nevada Deals With a High Domestic Violence Rate

Las Vegas police handled 33 homicides related to domestic violence in in 2015, about a quarter of all homicides that year. Statistics on the issue in Nevada are grim, the Las Vegas Sun reports. The Las Vegas-based Safe Nest shelter made 30,000 contacts with victims in 2016, and police responded to more than 60,000 domestic disturbances. This summer, a rash of tragedies has put domestic violence top of mind for the community. On July 10, people conducting a welfare check found […]

Las Vegas police handled 33 homicides related to domestic violence in in 2015, about a quarter of all homicides that year. Statistics on the issue in Nevada are grim, the Las Vegas Sun reports. The Las Vegas-based Safe Nest shelter made 30,000 contacts with victims in 2016, and police responded to more than 60,000 domestic disturbances. This summer, a rash of tragedies has put domestic violence top of mind for the community. On July 10, people conducting a welfare check found that a man had shot and killed his 11-month-old son, the boy’s mother, and the family dog before shooting himself. Later that money, a man tied up and stabbed his estranged girlfriend and their 4-year-old son, then stabbed himself to death.

Six times from 1998 to 2014, Nevada ranked first in the nation for female deaths at the hands of men and was consistently in the top five, according to the Violence Policy Center. In the most recent report from 2014, four out of five victims knew their killers, and the majority of them were in intimate relationships. Pinning down the reasons for Nevada’s elevated numbers demands more research, said Safe Nest’s Liz Ortenburger. Experts point to the high number of transient residents in tumultuous circumstances in the Las Vegas Valley. Hot summers force people inside for longer periods of time, and patience can run thin. Survivors, advocates, police officers and others are working to curb the violence, and they are making progress. “I’ve seen incredible changes,” said Elynne Greene of the police victim services and human trafficking unit. “If we can catch it in the very beginning, and have that face-to-face conversation and offer resources, we have a real good chance.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Cities Enact Penalties for Violence In Front of Children

Burleson, Tx., is among cities pioneering a way to protect children. A new ordinance makes it unlawful to attack anyone in front of a child, meaning abusers can be punished for a child’s anguish as well as for injuries. “These children live in constant fear and terror,” said Casey Gwinn, a former San Diego city attorney now leading a national campaign speaking up for children in abusive homes.

Burleson, Tx., is among cities pioneering a way to protect children. A new city ordinance makes it unlawful to physically attack anyone in front of a child, meaning abusers can be punished for a child’s anguish as well as for injuries, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. “These children live in constant fear and terror,” said Casey Gwinn, a former San Diego city attorney now leading a national campaign speaking up for children in abusive homes. “This puts police and the public on notice about the danger to the child.”

Burleson’s new law makes the offense a Class C misdemeanor. The punishment is up to a $500 fine, the most a city can impose. The point isn’t the fine. It’s to establish that an attack on a parent or family member is also an indirect attack on a child. That becomes evidence in a custody case. “We see women every day who’ve been abused, but then they turn around and have to share joint custody,” said Kathryn Jacob of SafeHaven of Tarrant County, a family violence agency. Family courts are filled with men who beat women but claim to be a “good dad.” Mayor Ken Shetter is also president of Fort Worth-based One Safe Place, a crime prevention agency that operates a family counseling and service center for assault victims, both adults and child witnesses. The ordinance passed the council unanimously, although one council member asked if it applied to spanking, or when “redneck [family members] come over and get into a brawl in your home.” The law only punishes “unjustified” violence, not legal spanking, Shetter said.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Repeat Victims Represent 50 Percent of Violent Crime

Observations It’s up to us within the criminal justice system to identify repeat victims and those with high rates of victimization to provide counseling, victim assistance and guidance to keep them safe. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news […]

Observations It’s up to us within the criminal justice system to identify repeat victims and those with high rates of victimization to provide counseling, victim assistance and guidance to keep them safe. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news […]

from https://www.crimeinamerica.net

Domestic Violence Coverage ‘Perpetuates’ Abuse

A recent study by the New York City Mayor’s Office argues that “inadequate” or sensationalist coverage of Intimate Partner Violence—and in particular of homicides linked to domestic violence cases─prevents serious public debate on the issue.

Superficial or irresponsible reporting on domestic violence “re-victimizes” readers who have experienced it, and “may perpetuate cycles of abuse,” says the New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.

A recent study by the NYC Mayor’s Office analyzing 442 print articles in the New York media written between 2013 and 2016, concluded that press coverage of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)—and in particular of homicides linked to domestic violence cases─is often “inadequate” or infected by sensationalism, which in turn prevents serious public debate on the issue.

According to the study, the media covered 99 of the 126 intimate partner homicides recorded in New York during that period. But in many of the articles there was no mention of “domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence.”

At least 20% of them used sensational language or phrases, such as “bludgeoning,”“bloodbath,” “jilted gangbanger,” “slaughter,” and “butcher.”And some 16% used language that portrayed the victim or perpetrator as socially deviant or as an “other,” the report said.

The report called on the media to live up to its “critical role in shaping how society perceives the dynamics of IPV, and in sparking conversation around public responsibility and solutions to IPV.”

The study, written by Sandhya Kajeepeta, Kara Noesner and Edward Hill, did not examine broadcast or online coverage.

The authors acknowledged that coverage of the issue by New York media was “more comprehensive” in 2016, but they added their anecdotal evidence suggested that in general “media coverage of IPV incidents is often inadequate or problematic in its framing.”

Among the coverage issues highlighted in the study:

  •  Only ten of the 442 articles (2.3%) covering NYC intimate partner homicides from 2013-16 included an intimate partner violence advocate or expert as a source;
  • Only 15% of articles used terms such as “domestic violence,” “intimate partner violence,” or “domestic abuse,” and less than 8% of articles described the homicide as being intimate partner violence-related;
  • Less than 6% of articles framed the homicide within the broader social problem of intimate partner violence;
  • Only seven articles (1.6%) listed intimate partner violence resources for readers.

The study also found that homicides involving victims who were men and perpetrators who were women were covered differently than those that involved victims who were women and perpetrators who were men, respectively.

“Intimate partner homicides were typically reported as isolated incidents with no mention of ‘domestic violence’ or ‘intimate partner violence,’” the study said.

“Given the role of the media in driving conversation about present issues, more effective coverage includes framing each domestic violence or IPV incident within the larger social problem.”

But the authors said journalists should do more than just “name the problem:” they should “identify trends and patterns as well as gaps in the system’s response that should be addressed.”

And they recommended that domestic violence agencies and advocate groups support journalists by providing up-to-date information and statistics on domestic violence “at an aggregate level.”

Editor’s Note: For additional sources, reports and coverage on Intimate Partner Violence, see TCR’s resources page. 

Summary prepared by Stephen Handelman, executive editor of The Crime Report. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org