Number of Domestic Violence Deaths Remains Consistent in Arizona

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.