Contact: John Caher or Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
(518) 457-8828
john.caher@dcjs.ny.gov or (518) 225-5240 – cell
janine.kava@dcjs.ny.gov or (518) 275-5508 – cell

For immediate release: Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010

Intimate partner homicides declined slightly in New York State in 2009

But women remain most at risk in their own homes: 44 percent of all female homicide victims older than 16 in New York State were killed by their intimate partner last year

Other indicators of domestic violence, such as calls to hotlines and court filings, have increased statewide during the past three years

ALBANY ─ Intimate partner homicides in New York State declined slightly in 2009, but women continue to be most at risk for violence by someone they know, according to a new report issued today by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).

The report, “Domestic Homicide in New York State: 2009,” details homicides in which the victim was an intimate partner (spouse, ex-spouse, sexual partner or ex-partner, including same-sex partners) or other family member (sibling or parent, for example) of the perpetrator. It also tracks homicides of children under the age of 18 by their parent, their parent’s intimate partner, or other family member.

In addition, two reports issued today by the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) show that many other indicators of non-lethal domestic violence, including the number of court filings and calls to hotlines, are showing an upward trend for the third consecutive year.

Last year, 89 individuals were killed by their intimate partners, two fewer than in 2008. But the number of intimate partner homicide victims who were female – 68 – remained the same in 2009 and 2008, as compared to 59 women killed by their intimate partners in 2007. According to the DCJS Domestic Homicide Report:

  • 44 percent (68 of 156) of female homicide victims aged 16 or older were killed by their intimate partner. In 15 of those cases, the male perpetrator killed himself after committing the murder.
  • In contrast, only 4 percent (21 of 585) of adult male murder victims were killed by an intimate partner.
  • The number of domestic homicides that claimed the lives of children under the 18 declined dramatically, with 17 children killed in 2009, as compared to 31 in 2008 and 39 in 2007. Five of the 17 children who died last year were killed by their parent’s intimate partners.

“As this report illustrates, women are most at risk for violence by someone they know, often, in their own homes,” said DCJS Acting Commissioner Sean M. Byrne. “Policy makers on the state and local level must continue to closely monitor these trends and other sources of domestic violence data so that we can develop effective responses to combat and prevent this crime.”

OPDV’s 2009 Domestic Violence Dashboard Project and the 2009 New York State Domestic Violence Annual Report provide a detailed look at indicators of domestic violence as reported to criminal justice and social services agencies, non-profit organizations and courts across the state, as well as the state’s response to combating it through new policies and programs, legislation, training and advocacy.

“Intimate partner homicides are just the tip of the iceberg, as the data contained in the 2009 Dashboard shows,” said OPDV Executive Director Amy Barasch. “Unfortunately, New York, like many other places, is experiencing an increase in a broad range of domestic violence indicators, including more claims for reimbursement filed by domestic violence and sexual assault victims with the state’s Crime Victims Board, more court cases for orders of protection, and more applicants for temporary public assistance disclosing their abuse.”

Executive Director Barasch added: “Identifying and tracking these trends are critical, especially as resources become scarce. We need to ensure that we are getting help to those who need it in the most efficient and effective way possible.”

According to the OPDV Dashboard:

  • 25 percent of all assaults reported by police agencies outside of New York City in 2009 were committed by intimate partners; 80 percent of those victims were female.
  • New York State’s courts issued a total of 262,327 orders of protection in 2009, a 21 percent increase from the prior year, and a 26 percent increase over 2007.
  • Legislation enacted in 2008 allows intimate partners – including dating couples, same-sex couples and teen-age couples – to seek civil orders of protection against their abusers; prior to the enactment of the Expanded Access to Family Court Law on July 28, 2008, those individuals had to pursue an order of protection through a criminal case. As a result, 14 percent of the family offense filings fell under that newly expanded definition, and 4 percent were made by individuals in current or former same-sex relationships. Additional information about this new law as well as others enacted to protect domestic violence victims in 2009 can be found in OPDV’s Annual Report.
  • More than 20,000 applicants for public assistance indicated danger due to domestic violence, a 17 percent increase from 2008 and a 41 percent increase from 2007.

The Domestic Homicide Report also shows that statewide, the number of intimate partner homicides remained relatively stable last year while the total number of domestic homicides, which includes intimate partner deaths and individuals killed by family members, and the number of total homicides in the state have declined.

There were 130 domestic homicides in New York State in 2009, down 12 percent from the prior year (147). At the same time, the total number of homicides statewide declined nearly 6 percent (829 to 781).

The report, written by Matthew Fetzer of the DCJS Office of Justice Research and Performance, is derived from data submitted monthly by state and local law enforcement agencies.  It provides detailed information on the 130 domestic homicides reported to police in 2009, including:

  • A breakdown of intimate partner homicides and total domestic homicides in New York City as compared to the rest of the state (57 counties Upstate and on Long Island).
  • Demographics of victims, including age, gender and race.
  • Circumstances surrounding intimate partner and total domestic homicides, including the type of weapon used in the crime.
  • A county-by-county breakdown of intimate partner homicides and total domestic homicides over the three-year period from 2007 through 2009.

The entire report is available on the home page of the DCJS website (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov). Prior year reports are posted to the site as well, under the “Publications” link.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry and a toll-free telephone number (1-800-262-3257) that allows anyone to research the status of an offender.

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence is charged with improving the response of state and local communities to domestic violence. OPDV provides guidance to Executive level staff on policy and legislation; conducts statewide community outreach and public education programs; and trains professionals on addressing domestic violence in a wide array of disciplines, including child welfare, law enforcement and health care.