Wis. study says one 3 of 10 homicides linked to domestic violence

According to an annual report released Wednesday by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an average of one homicide per week in Wisconsin is related to domestic violence – accounting for 29 percent of homicides in the state.

A ten-year record high in domestic violence homicides broke last year when the number decreased by 13.4 percent from 2009. In 2010, 58 people were killed in 39 homicides. In 2009, 67 people were murdered.

The report states that 21 of the 39 homicides occurred in Milwaukee County. The other deaths spanned across 17 counties, with victims ranging from infancy to age 87.

Sue Cooper, an outreach and advocacy coordinator from the Student Health Service at Marquette, said she was not surprised by the statistics and was encouraged by the decrease in homicides related to domestic violence.

Cooper said she hopes the public does not take its eyes off the issue.

“We need to keep this in mind as the city’s domestic violence agencies continue to assist victims at a steady pace,” she said. “One domestic violence homicide a year is too many.”

WCADV’s report also shows that those subjected to domestic violence in lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender communities have a particularly difficult time seeking and getting the help or support they need. To combat this, the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center has made a point to serve as a resource to any victims through its Anti-Violence Project.

Cooper said there are many factors that contribute to violence within relationships. She said it is important to remember that this type of violence affects everyone, regardless of age, marital status, race, cultural background, economic status or sexual orientation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women and adolescents will be subject to domestic, verbal, sexual or emotional abuse.

Rebecca Blemberg, former prosecutor in the Milwaukee County district attorney’s domestic violence unit and associate professor of law at Marquette, said she was not surprised by the statistics.

“For female crime victims especially, the perpetrators are usually intimate partners,” Blemberg said in an email. “The prevalence of domestic violence in Wisconsin and around the world is heartbreaking.”

Blemberg said many people perceive an attack by a stranger to be more terrifying than by someone they know, but that might not always be the case.

“To be attacked by someone you know well … is absolutely horrifying,” she said in an email. “For that victim, someone who should have made the victim feel safe and loved instead harmed her.”

Organizations on campus like Empowerment work to reduce the stigma and negative connotations surrounding domestic abuse.

According to a statement from Empowerment’s executive board, “As the feminist organization at Marquette we believe that domestic violence perpetuates the inequality between women and men. Domestic violence tends to be an unspoken issue in our society that deserves a greater amount of attention.”

Among Empowerment’s awareness events is its annual promotion of the Vagina Monologues, performed as part of the V-Day Movement. The play was written by Eve Ensler and portrays testimonies from young women who have been abused. Empowerment donates the proceeds to organizations that work to end violence against women.

Marquette is currently working on enhancing its student education regarding domestic abuse and relationship violence. Milwaukee already has several organizations, such as the Sojourner Family Peace Center, WCADV and the Milwaukee LGBT Center.