Hugh McQuaid Photo
Karen Jarmoc (Hugh McQuaid Photo)

Connecticut has averaged 14 domestic violence murders a year since 2000. It’s a statistic advocates said Tuesday they hope to drive down with greater public awareness of the warning signs of intimate partner violence.

An annual report of the Connecticut Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee found 188 residents have been murdered during domestic violence incidents since 2000. This year’s report includes several recommendations to reduce these fatalities and near-fatalities, including a more educated public.

In many of the cases, there were warning signs, Karen Jarmoc, CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said at a Hartford press conference. Jarmoc said it is important to reach potential victims before situations escalate.

“We want to reach people here, when it’s the power, the control, the harassment, the stalking, the put-downs, the isolating you from your family and friends, looking at your text messages behavior. As opposed to here, when he has access to a firearm and he’s contemplating suicide himself or might have lost his job and things can become extremely dangerous,” Jarmoc said.

Most of the murders over the last 14 years have been perpetrated by men. Of the 188 victims, 162 have been women, according to the report. A gun was used in 39 percent of the cases and a knife was used in 35 percent of the murders.

Jarmoc said her organization has been trying to craft a message that reaches victims of domestic violence, who sometimes do not recognize the severity of their situations. She said anyone who believes they may need help should call the domestic violence hotline at 888-774-2900.

At the press conference, Bristol resident Kelly Annelli said she wished she had known her friend and neighbor Kyla Ryng was in danger before she was murdered by her husband in June after she filed for divorce.

Hugh McQuaid Photo
Kelly Annelli (Hugh McQuaid Photo)

Annelli said she often questions whether she could have done something to prevent the incident.

“Did I do enough? What was I missing and could I have done more? I question if there was a cry for help in our sisterly-like conversations as we watched our children play in the yard,” she said. “… Domestic violence knows no boundaries, it can exist where we least expect it. I urge everyone to take the time to learn the signs.”

Jarmoc said intimate partners may be at a heightened risk of violence if they are in the process of ending their relationship or are scheduled to appear in court. Perpetrators are more likely to feel desperate if they’ve recently lost their jobs, she said.

The same risk elements were often present in the 167 near-fatalities that occurred in 2012, Jarmoc said.

“Thankfully these 167 did not actually lose their lives, but they had very, very serious injuries,” she said.

Jarmoc said her organization plans to launch a public awareness campaign in October. The campaign is likely to include bus-wrap posters and online advertisements. The group does not have enough funding to buy television and radio spots, she said.

CCADV recently received state funding to launch a statewide Hispanic domestic violence hotline, she said. Jarmoc said it is important for the group to expand the number of people it reaches.

“What we know, is that in the majority of domestic violence homicides, we’re not necessarily touching those individuals prior to the homicide and that’s very concerning,” she said. “There are opportunities through social media, through bus-wraps and posters and information, especially in regards to the Hispanic hotline in a very culturally-relevant way, to try to reach those individuals who are most at risk.”