Local News

Domestic violence homicides increased last year in NC

Posted April 9, 2013 4:07 p.m. EDT
Updated April 9, 2013 6:30 p.m. EDT

— The number of people in North Carolina killed as a result of domestic violence rose last year, according to numbers released Tuesday by the state Department of Justice.

Figures show 122 people – 78 female victims and 44 male victims – died in 2012, an increase from 106 in 2011. Seven had taken out protective orders against their accused killer at some point, and three of the protective orders were current when the victims were killed.

“I have great concern about this increase,” Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement. “It’s clear that North Carolina must do more to stop domestic abuse before it turns deadly.”

Wake County reported the highest number of domestic violence murders, 11; Mecklenburg County had eight and Guilford County had six.

Beth Froehling, executive director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the information about the murders can help inform the development of policy and legislation to address the problem.

Cooper said the numbers underscore the need for more resources for victims, as well as better enforcement of domestic violence laws and increased education and awareness of current resources, such as protective orders and a statewide Address Confidentiality Program that shields addresses from abusers.

Tuesday's figures were released as lawmakers debate the Healthy Marriages Act, a bill moving through the North Carolina General Assembly that would require a two-year waiting period for a divorce as well as counseling on conflict-resolution and communication skills. In addition, couples would have to live under the same roof during that period.

Domestic violence expert Kim Gandy says the bill would put women in even more dangerous of abuse, because it makes no exception for cases of domestic violence.

"We already know that the most dangerous time for a battered woman is after she takes steps to leave the relationship," Gandy, who leads the National Network to End Domestic Violence, said at a news conference Tuesday by NC Women United. "That's when she's most likely to be injured or killed."

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Austin Allran, R-Catawba, has cited a high divorce rate and lax divorce laws for the bill.

Allran, however, has said, he might consider offering exceptions for domestic violence or abuse.