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Women Don't Have to Die

Using only the knowledge and resources we have today, most domestic violence deaths, injuries, and trauma can be easily prevented. This isn't our dream at Women's Justice Center, nor is it a pipe dream, nor any dream at all. It's a fact, now well established in at least a half dozen U.S. cities. Cities as diverse as San Diego, CA, Quincy, MA, and Nashville, TN, in just a matter of a few years, have reduced their domestic violence homicide rates by as much as 60% and more.

The key to these dramatic successes is the same in each locale. The remedy is simple enough to apply anywhere. Women's lives are saved by aggressive and thorough law enforcement response to domestic violence at the misdemeanor level. It is the one and only remedy yet proven to work, and it works dramatically well.

The mechanism for this success is also plain to see. Once there is violence or the threat of violence, the only segment or our society with the authority and power needed to control a violent offender is law enforcement.

Moreover, unlike the unpredictable homicides that result from a robbery suddenly gone bad or a fight erupting on the street, domestic violence homicide rarely erupts from the blue.

Instead, conditions in an abusive relationship generally escalate to lethality over a long period of time. During that development, there are flare-ups and warnings along the way that are almost always brought to the attention of authorities. It's at those times that if police, prosecutors, and courts intervene with by now firmly established procedures, the violent offender is put under control, and the course to lethality is stopped. It's proven fact.

Tragically, proof of the pivotal role of law enforcement is still all too often demonstrated in the reverse. Investigation of the path leading up to domestic violence tragedies that have already occurred more often than not reveals a history of law enforcement failures to act properly, or even to act at all.

If domestic violence were a disease, the dramatic successes that have been duplicated in various cities around the country would be hailed as a miracle cure, and physicians everywhere would be rushing to apply the remedy. The question is no longer what can be done to prevent lethal consequences in a violent domestic relationship. The question is why do so many in law enforcement still continue to defy the procedures and laws that have been proven to save women's lives, and what is it going to take to make them change?

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Copyright © Marie De Santis,
Women's Justice Center,

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