State coordinates resources as intimate partner killings hit 14-year high in Maryland

More people died at the hands of their partner in Maryland last year than in the last 14 years, and the state is working to prevent domestic violence by banding together resources from all 16 counties.

In 2021, 58 Marylanders were killed by their intimate partner. That is the highest since 2007, according to the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence (MNADV).

The group held a virtual vigil this week for those who lost their lives, reading each of the 58 victims’ names aloud and sharing a quote from a family member or friend, along with the victim’s age, photo and town.

“We also hold space today for those whose names we do not yet know, those who are missing or not yet identified as having died due to partner violence. We do not accept these losses as unavoidable, but rather we fight to prevent more in the future,” said Jennifer Pollitt Hill, the executive director of MNADV.

Last September, state agencies coordinated to form the Domestic Violence Fatality Review State Implementation Team, or Maryland DVFRT. The team is made up of 70 survivors and professionals in all of the state’s 16 counties with the goal of reducing intimate partner homicides, said MNADV Prevention Coordinator Mariesa Robinson.

“We believe that through this team’s efforts in the realms of criminal justice, protocol and response, public health and medical response, training and education, community services, and children’s programming, all guided by a survivor advisory board who directs and evaluates the team’s initiatives, we will reduce the number of deaths in Maryland due to partner violence in the years ahead,” said Robinson.

Every single one of the 58 lives lost to intimate partner violence had told a friend or family member their partner was abusive, the network shared during the vigil. And 76% of them were killed with a gun.

“Of these 58,” Pollitt Hill said in part, “five, including two minor children, were bystanders and three others were killed within a situation of domestic violence wherein the dynamics are still being determined by the legal system.”

Further breaking down the loss by population, it is clear that minorities, including the state’s LGBTQ+ population, are at heightened risk.

“Black women accounted for 60% of the intimate partner victims in 2021. For context, Black women make up only 15% of Maryland’s population, meaning Black women are being killed by their intimate partners at a rate nearly four times their proportion within our state’s population,” said Pollitt Hill.

Find more information about the resources available and those who were honored online.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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