11/09/2012 05:43 pm ET Updated Jan 09, 2013

Domestic Violence Is Murder

Domestic Violence Awareness month is an opportunity to learn about all forms of domestic violence -- emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse and, in its extreme, murder. A recent report from the Violence Policy Center, "When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2010 Homicide Data," analyzes U.S. Department of Justice data on female homicides. The data reveal that most female homicides are committed by men who are or were in an intimate relationship with the victim.

While both men and women are the victims and the perpetrators of domestic violence, violence against women is a pervasive problem. Women are more likely to be victims of violence at the hands of their intimate partners than men, and the perpetrators are usually men. In 2010, in the United States there were 1,800 females murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents. Among these incidents 94 percent of victims knew the offender, and more than 65 percent of female homicide victims were the wives or intimate partners of their killers. In Illinois, in the period between July 2010 and June 2011, there were 43 domestic violence-related murders, 24 of which took place in Cook County. The majority of victims in these incidents were wives, girlfriends, ex-wives and ex-girlfriends of their killers.

The report by the Violence Policy Center looks specifically at the number of black women who were murdered in 2010 (see page 9). The black female homicide rate is almost 2.5 times higher than the rate for white women. Ninety-four percent of black women killed by males in single victim/single offender incidents knew their killer, and 64 percent of those victims were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives or girlfriends of the offender.

Among other marginalized groups, violence also appears in the LGBTQ community. A report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reveals a sharp increase in the number of domestic violence-related homicides in the LGBTQ community. In 2010 there were six killed, and by 2011 the number rose to 19 (see page 17). Among these incidents 42.1 percent were LGBTQ people of color (see page 7).

Domestic violence is not only a crime, but a major public health issue. Ending it requires both community education to prevent violence as well as policies and programs that allow victims to receive the services they need and the justice they deserve. The federal reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which includes crucial protections for Native American and immigrant women as well as survivors in the LGBTQ community, continues to stall in Congress. The time is now for Congress to act -- do your part to make sure that happens. And learn more about Domestic Violence Awareness month and how you can get involved.