By Hyun Namkoong

1. What is a domestic violence-related homicide under state law?

Under  state law, a homicide is considered domestic violence-related if the perpetrator and victim have one or any of the following six relationships.

Relationships include: (1) current or former spouses, (2) people of opposite sex who have cohabited or are cohabiting, (3) parent or children relationships, (4) people who have a child in common, (5) current or former household members and (6) people of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been romantically involved before.

Image courtesy Run Jane Fox, flickr creative commons
Image courtesy Run Jane Fox, flickr creative commons

2.  How many domestic violence-related homicides happened in North Carolina in 2013?

There were 108 domestic violence-related homicides in 2013, according to a report from the North Carolina Department of Justice.  Around two people died per week from domestic violence in 2013.

Since the 2007 passage of a state law requiring the reporting of domestic violence-related homicides in North Carolina, 2009 had the lowest number of homicides with 99.

In 2008, there were 137 homicides, the highest number of homicides since required reporting.

3. Who are the victims and perpetrators of  domestic violence-related homicides?

In 2013, nearly 43 percent of the victims were male, according to a report from the North Carolina Department of Justice.  Females accounted for the majority of victims of domestic violence-related homicide in the state.

In 2013, more than 75 percent of the perpetrators of domestic violence-related homicides were male. This is consistent with national data that show males are often the perpetrators of serious cases of domestic violence.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the most effective way of reducing the number of female homicide victims is to protect female victims of domestic violence. National statistics show that nearly one-third of female victims of homicide are killed by an intimate partner.

4.  Which counties had the most domestic-violence related homicides in 2013?

In 2013, Guilford County had the most domestic violence-related homicides in the state with 11 cases. Buncombe, Wake, Mecklenburg and Durham counties had the most homicides after Guilford, according to the North Carolina Department of Justice. 

Of these counties, Buncombe County had the highest homicide rate with 3.22 homicides per 100,000 people.

5. What kind of support services are available for victims of domestic violence?

A wide array of support services are available for victims of domestic violence in North Carolina. Services range from emergency shelters, crisis hotlines, court advocacy and support groups for adults and children.

State funding supports the NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an organization that provides support services for victims of domestic violence.

Support services for victims of domestic violence are available throughout the state.

6. What kind of legal action can victims of domestic violence take before it’s too late?

Under state law, victims of domestic violence have the right to file for a protective order.

The court determines the type of protections victims need. Depending on the case, a protective order can do a number of things to protect the victim from the perpetrator, such as evict the perpetrator from the residence or order payment to support the victim or children.

The court also has the power to order the surrender and disposal of firearms if the perpetrator has made threats to commit suicide or seriously harm or kill the victim and/or children.

7. Does domestic violence only include physical harm?

No. Under state law, domestic violence includes stalking, rape or other forms of sexual violence.

Many advocacy groups have expanded their definition of domestic violence to also include emotional abuse, economic abuse, isolation and coercion, according to a 2009 report from the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission. 

8. Does alcohol or substance use play a role in domestic violence-related homicides?

It often does. According to a study of more than 400 women in North Carolina, offender intoxication was the most reliable predictor for calling the police. Almost two-thirds of abusers were found drinking at the scene of the incident and more than half of the abusers were described as binge drinkers by their victims.

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Hyun graduated from the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings Global School of Public Health in the health behavior department and she worked as the NC Health News intern from Jan-Aug 2014.

3 replies on “By the Numbers in North Carolina: Domestic Violence”

  1. Why are former and current spouses lumped together in the same category? How many homicide victims were currently married to their spouse when murdered?

  2. This article is SO misleading on many levels. The author suggests 43% of homicide victims are male, leading you to believe that the perpetrators of those homicides were female. Not so. Her statements need substantial qualification. Additionally, NCCADV is NOT a victim service agency. If a victim is seeking information, safety and support, she should find her local service provider. An easy way to identify who her local provider is through this link: http://www.councilforwomen.nc.gov/programslist.aspx. Also, while there may be a correlation between domestic violence and substance use, there is no causal relationship. Please be informed.

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