Domestic violence deaths in the state of Arizona have stayed consistent
over the years, with about 100 deaths a year. Although this data is not
what law enforcement officials or people in general would like to see,
a steady rate is better than an increase in
domestic violence deaths.
The checklist of signs we previously discussed – if a woman had been
threatened or assaulted with a gun, she is 20 times more likely as other
battered women to be murdered, and if a woman had been choked before by
an abuser, she is 10 times more likely to killed - are so consistent that
intake workers at domestic violence shelters use this criteria to establish
what danger a woman faces.
Phoenix police officers also ask similar questions when they go out on
approximately 14,000 domestic violence calls every year.
Carl Mangold, a licensed social worker, said that there “is a pattern
in incidents that end fatally” in that a man becomes “violent,
he blames the victim, she resists, his abuse escalates, she tries to leave
the relationship, and he punishes her for her defiance.”
What Mr. Mangold stated is true in most cases, however Arizona’s
latest incident of domestic violence that ended with fatalities, did not
fit this pattern.
According to police, evidence in the case indicates that James Butwin,
killed his wife and their three children, even though friends say they
saw no history of violence.
But this case is the exception, as in most case there are warning signs.
The warning signs were there when J.T. Ready shot and killed his girlfriend
and three other people. The warning signs were there when Christina Alvarez
was shot and killed in Phoenix, and when Tekesha Barnes was shot outside
of a school waiting for her daughter, and when Amanda Blaies-Rianldi was
shot and killed by her abusive husband.
The Sojourner Center, a domestic violence shelter for women where the 224
beds are always full, always asks a woman upon entry if her abuser has
access to a gun.
Connie Phillips, the Sojourner Center’s director, not only assesses
the necessary security measures that need to be taken at the center at
intake time, but also helps the woman understand how much danger she may
be in from her abuser, as victims may minimize the risk they face as a
means of coping with abuse from day to day.
If an abuser has a gun, he does not even need to point it at her to intimidate
her. It is a tool to show he has “the power,” and she does
not, stated Phillips. She tells the story of a woman who was shot by her
abuser, but survived.
The abuser said he was sorry, that it would never happen again, and when
he brought her home from the hospital he did take good care of her for
awhile. But then one day she felt the gun against her head again. The
abuser pulled the trigger, but fortunately for her, the chamber was empty.
She left him for good that time.
However, unfortunately, not everyone leaves their abuser in time.