Report: 71 percent of Louisville domestic violence deaths involve guns
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Abusers are armed with guns more often and domestic violence victims are dying at a higher rate.
That’s according to a report just released by the Metro Domestic Violence Prevention Coordinating Council.
While there has been a spike in domestic violence deaths this year, overall the numbers have remained fairly constant.
It's how often guns are now being used that experts call "alarming."
“This particular night things just got way out of control, and I was physically abused.”
Last year, WDRB reported Chenethia's chilling story of abuse. She survived her ordeal, but some victims do not.
A special task force has released its latest report on domestic violence deaths in Metro Louisville. There have been 14 over the past two years -- including eight homicides and six murder-suicides.
But the most alarming number is this: 71 percent of domestic violence deaths involved a firearm. That's up from 21 percent in 2009-10.
“We know nationally, as well as local, that when there's access to firearms and there's intimate partner violence, that the opportunity for a lethal result is high,” said Circuit Judge Jerry Bowles, co-chair of the committee.
But who were the victims?
Over 70 percent were women and the same percentage African-American
More than half were living with their abuser, as opposed to being married or separated.
The report notes that most of those who were killed had never previously sought help from police or social service agencies.
“My concern, and I think the concern of our committee, is those people don't realize at what great risk they may be,” said Karen Allen, director of the Metro Criminal Justice Commission.
Allen says that points to the need for even greater education about recognizing and reporting domestic violence.
“Some sort of public information campaign, public awareness, that we can educate people about the risk,” she said.
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad says police are becoming much better at recognizing potential victims and intervening.
They're now armed with what's called a lethality assessment, a series of questions officers ask on domestic violence runs.
“While they're at the scene, they are able to connect those victims on the phone with a domestic violence advocate,” said Conrad.
And potentially save the lives of women such as Chenethia.
“I am just grateful to know that there is a way out of what I was going through,” she said.
The report does not count four other domestic violence deaths the committee called 'a-typical.' Two were self defense, one was a third-party homicide, and one was a police-involved shooting.
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