Domestic Violence Deaths Drop in 2012

There's been a 30 percent decrease in such incidents during the past year.


They were shot, fatally beaten and even set on fire.

One woman was shot three times by her ex-lover who then turned the gun on himself in broad daylight in a McDonald's parking lot. Their 17-month-old daughter present during the homicide-suicide.

Another was intoxicated when her husband put her on a chair and set her on fire. They were homeless.

A couple was murdered by the woman's ex-boyfriend. One of their three children witnessed the massacre.

These are four of the nine horrific domestic violence deaths listed in an annual report released Thursday by the Santa Clara County Domestic Violence Death Review Committee. Despite these incidents domestic violence deaths have decreased by 30 percent in Santa Clara County, from 12 in 2011 to nine in 2012, the report demonstrates

All of the nine deaths in 2012 occurred in San Jose and the deaths in this category included six homicide victims and three people who committed suicide, according to the report. In 2011, 12 people died by homicide and five committed suicide during domestic violence altercations and in 2010, three died by homicide and two committed suicide, according to the report.

During a press conference at the Santa Clara County Government Center in San Jose, District Attorney Jeff Rosen, State Senator Elaine Alquist (Ret.), Superior Court Judge L. Michael Clark and Supervising Deputy District Attorney Steven Dick sent a message to domestic violence victims: "Seek help."

The message to friends, families, co-workers and community members: "Speak up, save lives."

The report revealed the perpetrators came from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, with four of the 12 murder victims being Asian, three being Caucasians and two being Hispanic. Three of the perpetrators were Asian, two were Caucasian and one was Hispanic.

Six of the nine death were killed with firearms, one was killed from blunt force trauma and one was burned to death and one committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills.

Men are not the only ones who kill domestic partners. One of the perpetrators was a woman, according to the report.

Some red flags and character traits that could contribute to potential lethal situations are individuals' desire to have power and control over their intimate partners, the report said.

"When a perpetrator begins to feel that power eroding, they may do whatever they can to regain power, including killing the people they seek to control," the report stated.

The risk may also escalate when the victim challenges the perpetrator’s control  by trying to end the relationship, file for divorce, or begin a relationship with another person, it added.

"Children, other family members, neighbors, co-workers, and innocent bystanders are all put at risk if they are nearby when the violence erupts."

Authorities said education needs to continue to help people understand that reporting domestic violence saves lives and that intervention is necessary.

In 2012, law enforcement officers referred approximately 3,962 non-lethal cases of domestic violence to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office for review, the report added.

The DVDRC has identified numerous “red flags,” or factors that may precede a domestic violence related death.

Risk factors may include:

  • Prior acts of intimate partner violence.
  • Separation or talk of ending the relationship.
  • Access to firearms or failing to relinquish firearms after being served a
    protective order.
  • Controlling behaviors which may include social isolation, financial
    dependency by restricting access to money and information about finances, threats to take away children, or threats involving deportation.
  • Stalking behavior including monitoring of daily activities.
  • Threats of suicide and/or homicide.
  • Kidnapping or imprisoning someone against their will.
  • Lack of any, or very few, friends outside the relationship.
  • Untreated and inadequately treated mental health conditions, or illnesses
    including depression, anxiety, and related conditions. Issues may stem from early childhood trauma, abuse, neglect or abandonment.
  • Previous use of weapons or threat of using weapons.
  • Extreme jealousy and/or possessiveness.
  • Prior strangulation and choking.
  • Aging related diseases (like dementia) which may exacerbate abusive or violent behavior.
  • A sense of entitlement, self-centeredness, or a lack of empathy for others
    (including children).
  • Illicit drug use or alcohol consumption

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