Report shows widespread causes for domestic violence

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — In 2010, the vast majority of deaths from domestic violence involved female victims and male perpetrators, a firearm, and happened around the end of a relationship or a time when one partner suspected the other of infidelity.

All this comes from an annual report released May 6 by the Fairfax County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, which found that 7 out of the 16 reported homicides in Fairfax County in 2010 involved domestic violence.

86 percent of the victims were female, while 83 percent of the perpetrators were male.

Among the perpetrators, most of them had exhibited jealousy and controlling behavior in the past and had problems with alcohol; the study also noted that alcohol was only present in two incidents and cannot be considered a contributing factor. Over half of the homicides involved a firearm.

Victims in the 2010 deaths ranged from 15 to 52 years old. In one case, two children were present at a homicide, and in another, a child was killed after her father killed her mother.

The report also made recommendations for how to prevent these kinds of deaths in the future.

“Poly-victimization,” or experiencing more than one type of victimization in a lifetime, is often a contributing factor. The report recommends training counselors and other professionals about this phenomenon.

Community outreach and education should focus on “increased lethality risk of owning firearms in houses where domestic violence is also present,” and community members should be allowed to safely intervene in domestic violence and stalking cases.

Moreover, law enforcement and service providers should learn “cultural competency,” an understanding of how domestic violence may play out in different cultures.

This could mean anything from military culture to a religious, ethnic, or racial group, or just learning how to speak multiple languages.

The report was presented to the Fairfax Board of Supervisors on May 6.

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