The director of Crime Victim Assistance in the Iowa Attorney General’s office has compiled the latest total of domestic-violence deaths in the state. Marti Andersen updates the statistics twice a year, and says she wishes there were some change in the report — but the trend remains the same.She says there are still around 8 women killed every year in Iowa, a state with an otherwise low murder rate — and they’re killed “by someone who has at one time or another professed to love them.” She tracks people killed by a spouse, boyfriend or partner in domestic situations, as well as those who were bystanders but also died as a result of the domestic violence. Since 1995 there have been 31 bystanders killed in domestic-violence murders. She says that includes 17 children as well as others who are parents of the victims, people who were dating the victim or trying to help them. “It’s a very dangerous situation.” The statistics show a clear trend — since Andersen began tracking them a decade ago, 84 women have been killed by their partners, 14 men have been killed by partners — and of the 34 bystanders who also died in such incidents, just one was killed by a woman. Andersen says while they’re most often the victims, women don’t have much help escaping violence. The 30 domestic-violence programs around the state work hard to give women an option and help them try to avoid being killed or injured in domestic situations — yet she points out “women are at a higher level of danger when they leave.” She points to data showing a violent partner’s most likely to do something serious when the victim decides to get out of the relationship. Andersen says that’s why domestic violence programs must offer more than temporary shelters.That victim has to find new work, safe housing, and a way to ensure the children aren’t used as a weapon against the partner who’s leaving. “We need to create a society where it’s safe to get out of a violent marriage,” she says, “and where we can help people set up a different life.” The domestic-violence fatality list includes cases like the slaying of a woman by her ex-son-in-law last month in Murray, and a man shot to death in Muscatine by the estranged husband of a woman who’d followed them from Miami.
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