106 people in N.C. died from domestic violence in 2011

State highlights ways that abused partners can get help

ykandimalla@newsobserver.comJuly 3, 2012 

Domestic violence took the lives of more than 100 people across North Carolina last year.

A report from the state Attorney General’s office concludes that 106 North Carolinians were victims of homicide stemming from domestic violence. The number is one less than similar homicides reported in 2010.

“Any domestic violence murder is one too many,” Attorney General Roy Cooper said. “We’re glad the numbers held steady, but we would much rather see them go down.”

Among the victims, 68 were female and 38 were male, according to the report. The homicides were committed by 81 males and 25 females.

Twelve domestic violence homicides occurred in Mecklenburg County, the highest in the state. Ten took place in Durham County, which has a third of Mecklenburg’s population. Wake County had four domestic violence homicides in 2011.

Thirteen victims had also brought protective orders against their abusers, and six of those orders were in effect at the time of the slaying.

Although the offenders ignored them in those cases, protective orders have helped reduce domestic violence and related incidents, Cooper said. Violations of protective orders are prosecuted as contempt of court and include jail time.

He said victims who stay at domestic violence shelters in the state are encouraged to file protective orders against their abusers.

Pitt County has implemented an automatic system in which victims are notified when their abusers are served with a protective order. Cooper hopes the system can be replicated across the state.

“After they find out about the order, many assailants become angry and try to find the victim immediately,” he said. “The notifications help victims take steps in advance and protect themselves.”

Cooper noted, however, that the state should increase supervision of domestic violence offenders who receive probation.

Since 2003, the state’s Address Confidentiality Program has helped victims shield their address from their abuser, Cooper added. Victims can opt into the program, which gives them a substitute address to use in paying bills or registering to vote. Their mail is received by the Attorney General’s office and forwarded to their true address, which is kept hidden from public records.

The system has successfully deterred abusers, Cooper said.

If the participant decides to buy a new home, however, the program cannot block the new address from public records.

There are a few domestic violence homicide victims whose cases were not brought to the attention of authorities until they were killed, said Beth Froehling, executive director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“Domestic violence is one of the most underreported crimes, and it takes a lot of courage for the victim to come forward,” Froehling said.

Since 2007, state law has required county law enforcement to submit reports on domestic violence homicides. In 2008, the first year the report was compiled, 137 domestic violence killings were committed. The number of slayings dropped to 99 in 2009 before rising to 107 in 2010.

NCCADV issued its own report related to domestic violence homicides in the state in 2010.

The organization found that six victims were children under 18 and that 65 percent of the killings were committed with a firearm.

The 2011 state report did not include similar statistics.

The NCCADV definition of a victim is different from the state’s definition of “personal relationships,” which account for current and former spouses, children and parents, people in a romantic relationship and cohabitants.

NCCADV also considers third party victims, such as police officers, but limits personal relationships to intimate couples and parents and children.

Kandimalla: 919-829-8917

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