Statewide, 222 people have been killed and 3,600 have suffered serious injuries as the result of domestic violence since 2000, according to a report released today.
Of the deaths caused by violence from an intimate partner, most – 190 of them – were women, according to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. An average of 14 intimate partner homicides occur each year in the state, according to the advocacy organization.
The group reviews intimate partner fatalities and near-fatalities to assess Connecticut’s response to domestic violence and this morning released its 2015-2016 findings.
The good news is that domestic partner homicides dropped to 8 in 2015, but so far in 2016 that number has climbed back up to nine.
At press conference to talk about the results, the group’s CEO Karen Jarmoc said “I don’t think we can say yet whether there’s going to be a decrease. We are grateful for that decrease last year.”
She said she would like to hope the work they’ve been doing to end domestic violence is making a difference.
“Each of these victims’ stories provide important opportunities for us to view and strengthen a system intended to protect them,” Jarmoc said in a statement.
After analyzing data and trends, the coalition recommends increased training for members of the legal community to help them spot potentially deadly relationships.
Many domestic violence aggressors violated restraining orders their victims had taken out against them, the report found. Connecticut’s Judicial Branch issued more than 28,000 court orders of protection in 2014 alone, according to the report, but the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection reported only 2,000 arrests that year for violating court orders in intimate partner relationships.
“When victims get to the point of seeking assistance from the legal system they have typically already suffered years of abuse,” attorney Nuala Droney, partner at Robinson and Cole, said in a statement. “They may feel trapped or as if no one can help them. It is critical that we work to build meaningful responses to both their legal and safety needs through increased pro-bono opportunities and enhanced training for legal professionals to understand and identify risk factors for fatal family violence.”
Inquiries related to legal needs are among the most frequent requests from domestic violence victims to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s 18 member organizations, according to the report.
Family court gets 8,000 to 9,000 applications for civil restraining orders each year, according to the report, and in many cases victims are dealing with divorce and custody issues at the same time.
A new law approved earlier this year by the legislature modifies the civil restraining order process. The law which goes into effect on Oct. 1. will require the person who is subject of a temporary restraining order to turn over their firearm to law enforcement, until there’s a court hearing to determine if the temporary restraining order should be dismissed or become permanent.
The law, which took at least two years to pass, was opposed by Second Amendment supporters who saw it as an attempt to confiscate firearms from individuals before they have an opportunity to appear before a judge.
Jarmoc said they will be tracking the new temporary restraining order process very closely to make sure the law is working appropriately.
“We do know access to firearms, I know you’ve heard this many times before, in a domestic violence relationship increases the chance of homicide by five times,” Jarmoc said.
In Connecticut, 13 percent of all homicides are related to domestic violence, according to the report. In 35 percent of cases the parties were married, and firearms were the most commonly used weapon. Nearly a third, or 30 percent, of the state’s intimate partner homicides result in murder-suicides, and 79 percent of those are committed with a firearm, the report found.
Most often, victims and offenders in intimate partner homicides statewide are between 25 and 34 years old.
The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence also found health care professionals can play an important role in responding to domestic violence, particularly among pregnant women and mothers of young children – two groups that tend to visit medical providers frequently.