Local News

N.C. report: Domestic violence killed 131 people in 2008

Posted March 26, 2009 11:52 a.m. EDT
Updated March 26, 2009 2:53 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina's attorney general says domestic violence killed 131 people across the state last year, and he's urging victims to get court-ordered protection against their abusers.

"We know the terrible physical and emotional toll domestic violence inflicts on families," Attorney General Roy Cooper said Thursday. "But these numbers show us it is too often deadly, as well."

Mecklenburg County had the highest number of deaths at 14. But Cooper said he was surprised by the statistics in some smaller rural counties, where as many as five deaths were reported.

Wake County reported six deaths; Durham and Cumberland counties both reported four.

The statistics were collected under a 2007 state law requiring all counties to report domestic violence deaths. The study provides the first comprehensive assessment of such deaths in North Carolina.

Eight people killed in 2008 had taken out protective orders, but only three were current when the victim died, Cooper said.

He said the problem has been "swept under the rug" but that the state is working on reducing domestic violence through several initiatives.

Under a pilot program in Pitt County, people who take out protective orders get an alert within minutes of the order being served.

Cooper said he would also like to see a pilot program to determine whether supervised probation can help stop abuse. Right now, domestic violence offenders who receive probation aren't supervised, he said.

"We owe it to those killed by domestic violence to look for ways to stop these crimes from happening," he said. "Supervised probation could provide a check on violent abusers and possibly save lives."

Cooper said the state also has the Address Confidentiality Program that keeps victims' addresses confidential once they leave their partners. Since it started in 2003, 572 people have enrolled in the program through their local domestic violence or sexual assault centers.