The goal of the Fatality Review Project is to reduce domestic violence-related fatalities using information learned about past fatalities. The annual reports, though diverse in design, contain researched findings regarding carefully selected fatalities that meet review criteria. Whether you are a front line responder, part of the justice system, advocate or family or friend of someone impacted by domestic violence, the reports seek to provide information that might be used to prevent a domestic violence homicide.
In its 7th year, there are a few major gaps identified by the Project:
- Georgia’s DV victim services programs turned away 2,6362 victims (including children) who requested shelter in 2010, because of a lack of accommodations.
- Only 19% of victims in fatalities reviewed since 2004 were connected with DV emergency shelter programs.
- Law enforcement bears much of the burden of intervention in DV cases, yet their incident-based response is sometimes a poor fit for the pattern-based abuse that defines much DV. An estimated 55% to 85% of 911 calls relayed to Georgia law enforcement are DV related.3 In 2009, domestic incidents accounted for 24% of the 49 firearm-related line-of-duty deaths for U.S. officers. Still, specialized training in DV is a rarity in many jurisdictions in Georgia. Escalated hazards plus the lack of specialized training and support compromise first responders’ capacity to make victim safety a first priority.
- Calling law enforcement may result in criminal charges, lost family income, escalated violence, and possibly no relief of the victim’s suffering.
- While prosecutors understandably prefer clear-cut cases in which the survivor definitively leaves the relationship and agrees to testify fully against the abuser, many DV cases are intrinsically legally problematic. Some DV victims’ sense of self may be damaged from years of abuse, their self-efficacy compromised, their internal and external resources and support networks exhausted, their loyalties confused, and they may not want their relationship to end. Other victims may not be confused at all: they may have come to a clear-eyed and entirely rational understanding that their abuser will kill them if they take steps to leave, separate, or testify against him. Indeed, our research has shown consistently that women in Georgia are most likely to be killed when taking steps to separate from their abusive partner. Survivors in these circumstances may frustrate the system by appearing confused, belligerent, cowed, or uncooperative with prosecutors and others genuinely concerned with protecting victims. Our legal response best serves a certain, resourceful, and ideal victim, anxious to terminate her relationship with the abuser. This sort of victim rarely exists.
- Most DV victims work outside of the home, and a considerable amount of DV occurs in and around the workplace, but few employers have DV policies, are trained to spot signs and symptoms, or can safely refer victims to help.
- Teens receive little if any information on safe dating or DV resources at school; even if they are alert to DV or stalking, they cannot apply for protective orders without assistance from an adult.
We encourage you to view the entire document. There are specific sections focusing on teen dating violence and faith community responses to family violence, and there are even tip sheets in the back that you can use or tear out and pass along.