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Domestic violence deaths of Texas women down, but familicide up

The final day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month is today, but that doesn't mean Texans should put the issue out of their minds. For thousands of families across the state, domestic violence is a very real and ongoing problem that deserves our attention, especially as trends of violence change.

According to a report compiled by the Texas Council on Family Violence, fewer Texas women were killed in domestic violence incidents in 2011 than in the previous year. A total of 102 women between the ages of 16 and 78 were reported killed by a partner or former partner, a decrease of 28 percent. But it wasn't only women who died as a result of domestic violence. Children, other family members and even strangers can fall victim to abuse by extension. In 2011 26 innocent bystanders were killed in such incidents.

While the decrease in individuals killed in domestic violence cases is a positive sign, there's another disturbing trend that appears to be increasing. Last year in Texas there were six cases of familicide, in which entire nuclear families were killed. That's a six-fold increase from 2010. The reason for such a large increase is as difficult to understand as a single incident of someone killing their family. But knowing these trends exist is crucial to stopping the further spread of domestic violence.

The Texas Council on Family Violence collected the data for its report from the Texas Department of Public Safety, along with records from statewide police departments. By learning all they can about individual domestic violence incidents from law enforcement authorities, advocates for women and families can in turn better inform police and other authorities of how to prevent future incidents. And by spreading awareness of trends in violence, the Texas Council on Family Violence can better secure funding to help affected women and families directly.

Anyone who has suffered abuse at the hands of a partner deserves a lifeline, whether it's a place at a shelter, legal representation or even just someone willing to listen. The number of victims may be falling, but we have much farther to go to ensure that everyone is truly safe from domestic abuse.

Source: Statesman.com, "Report: Fewer Texas women killed in domestic violence last year," David Barer, Oct. 31, 2012

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