I just finished up a story on domestic violence numbers of deaths in 2008, 2009. I’ve been following domestic violence in the US and abroad for about 20 years — since I was in a violent relationship myself in the early 1980s. After I got out of that relationship, underwent a lot of therapy and help from a battered women’s shelter support services in Aurora, Colo., I started writing about domestic violence.
It was only a couple years before (in 1979) that Lenore Walker’s book The Battered Woman had been published.
I picked up the book and found my story in there. I was so ashamed of myself in the beginning. How had I, a feminist, strong intelligent woman succumbed to a relationship where I was beaten and finally, broken. I was stunned when I started reading about the cycle of violence and how horrifying it was, and yes, familiar.
Fast forward 20 years and I’ve written many, many stories about domestic violence at a number of different publications. I’ve also gotten sober and just recently celebrated 21 years of being clean and sober. But that’s another story. Although substance abuse certainly helped to keep me in the violent relationship.
The story I just finished for Women’s eNews is a story not only about the increase in the domestic violence murders, suicides and deaths of those caught in the crossfire, it is also a story about numbers.
When I began writing about domestic violence nobody was tracking numbers about deaths, injuries or anything related. Since then we’ve increasingly seen the Dept. of Justice, the FBI, the CDC and many, many other antiviolence groups tracking the numbers of domestic violence homicides, injuries and so on. Huge changes in how it’s perceived etc. etc.
So when I heard the stories about murder/suicides increasing in a number of states, I went first to the statistics to check out homicides, suicides and those deaths related to domestic violence.
Guess what? Those numbers still aren’t tracked in any cohesive, national database that systematically tracks and documents the toll in death and injury by domestic violence incidents for lack of a better term (ie. homicides, suicides and others who die in such incidents) in the United States.
So, check out Women’s eNews next week on Friday for the story about how high the numbers are and that they are increasing in the U.S., despite the fact that we are being told that violent crime is way down in many parts of the country.
My second question? How can you attempt to find solutions to a problem if you can’t even define the problem by how often, where, when, by whom and what is happening?