Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Vice President Biden and Attorney General Holder Announce Grants to Help Reduce Domestic Violence Homicides
Twelve Cities and Counties Receive Grants as Part of New, Evidence-Based Prevention Initiative
Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder today announced grants to 12 programs across the country to target the urgent need to reduce domestic violence homicides. On average, three women a day die as a result of domestic violence . Research shows that women whose partner threatens them with a gun or other weapon are 20 times more likely to subsequently be murdered than other abused women. Moreover, children, coworkers, neighbors and police officers are also killed as a result of domestic violence. From 2009 to 2012, 40 percent of mass shootings – those with four or more victims killed – started with the murderer targeting their girlfriend, wife or ex-wife.
In total, the Department of Justice will award $2.3 million to 12 sites across the country as part of the new Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative (DVHP Initiative). The DVHP Initiative, created by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women, (OVW) helps state and local jurisdictions reduce domestic violence homicides by effectively identifying potential victims and monitoring high-risk offenders. The DVHP Initiative is modeled after programs in Massachusetts and Maryland, where the use of coordinated teams of law enforcement, prosecutors, health professionals and victims’ services significantly reduced the domestic violence homicide rate.
“Every single day in America, three women die at the hands of their boyfriend, or their husband, or their ex-husband. Many of these women have been threatened or severely abused in the past. We know what risk factors put someone in greater danger of being killed by the person they love – and that also means we have the opportunity to step in and try to prevent these murders. That’s why these grants are so important. They’ll help stop violence before it turns deadly,” said Vice President Biden.
“Domestic violence is a devastating crime – and it claims far too many lives each and every day,” said Attorney General Holder. “With today’s grant announcement, we are strengthening our ability to fight back more effectively – and aggressively – than ever before. And we’re supporting the kinds of evidence-based domestic violence homicide prevention models that will allow us to reliably predict potentially lethal behavior, take steps to stop the escalation of violence and save lives.”
The Vice President and Attorney General announced the grant awards in Rockville, Md., where they were joined by dozens of Maryland law enforcement officers who have been at the forefront of domestic violence homicide prevention efforts in that state.
“While the statistics seem overwhelming, we are not helpless in the face of these terrible crimes,” said Acting Director of Office on Violence Against Women Bea Hanson. “We hope this evidence-based initiative to reduce domestic violence homicide is a breakthrough in preventing murders and serious injuries across the country.”
The new DVHP Initiative is based on an assessment tool that researchers have identified that can be used to reliably recognize women who may be in fatally abusive relationships. Attempted strangulation, threats with weapons, sexual assault and obsessively jealous and controlling behavior are among the markers of particularly lethal abusers. Once at-risk victims are identified, law enforcement, prosecutors, courts and service providers can take action to protect them and their families.
Since passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994, annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent, but more work remains to reduce the most serious of this violence. OVW is partnering with the National Institute of Justice to rigorously monitor the implementation of the initiative and evaluate its outcomes. OVW is also working with national experts to provide technical assistance to the demonstration sites.
The demonstration sites, each receiving one-year awards ranging from $100,658 to $200,000, are: Contra Costa County, Calif.; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; Rockdale County, Ga.; Winnebago County, Ill.; Boston; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Westchester County, N.Y.; Pitt County, N.C.; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; North Charleston, S.C.; and Rutland, Vt. After the 12-month assessment phase, up to six of the demonstration sites will be selected to continue a three-year implementation phase.
Factsheet: The Obama Administration’s Commitment
To Reducing Domestic Violence Homicides
“Lives are being saved – we know how to do it – and these grants will help us expand those
programs. They’ll give 12 communities across the country the tools they need to predict when
someone will become violent – and step in before they become deadly.”
Vice President Joseph Biden
March 13, 2013
• Since passage of the Violence against Women Actin 1994, annual rates of domestic
violence have dropped by 64% percent. In spite of this progress, domestic violence still
occurs at alarming rates and too often becomes lethal. On average, three women a day
die as a result of domestic violence, and for every woman killed in a domestic violence
homicide, nine more are critically injured. We can and must do more to prevent these
murders and near-murders.
• Certain behaviors by abusers are strong predictors of escalating violence that ends in
homicide or serious injury. Research shows that women whose partner threatens them
with a gun or other weapon are 20 times more likely to be murdered than other abused
women. Those whose partner verbally threatens to kill them are 15 times more likely to
be murdered. Those whose partner tries to strangle them are nearly 10 times more
likely to be murdered.
• The Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence has implemented a state-wide
strategy to prevent domestic violence homicides by enlisting a broad range of first
responders, including police, nurses, health clinics, faith leaders, and others to help
identify women who are at the highest risk and immediately connect them to domestic
violence services. Using this approach, Maryland has reduced its domestic violence
homicide rate by 34% over the past five years. The Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center in
Newburyport, Massachusetts, created a team of law enforcement and domestic violence
service providers to identify high-risk victims and use all tools available under existing
law to interrupt the violence and prevent further abuse. Since 2005, the team has
intervened in over 106 high risk cases and has had no domestic violence homicides.
• The Department of Justice has announced funding for twelve communities to
implement these proven domestic violence homicide reduction and prevention models
through a new program, the Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration
Initiative. These funds are made available under the Grants to Encourage Arrest
program in the Violence Against Women Act and were proposed in the President’s 2012
• This four year initiative will replicate the successful work pioneered in Maryland and
Newburyport, Massachusetts, and will provide each selected community with intense
support in creating and implementing models in their communities to help prevent
domestic violence homicides.
Factsheet: The Link between Common Sense Efforts to
Reduce Gun Violence and Preventing Domestic Violence
“The President and I believe we have an obligation as a country to do more to end this
violence. We can’t just stand by while these murders keep happening year after year. …The
issues of domestic violence and efforts to reduce gun violence are connected. And they both
require urgent action.”
Vice President Joseph Biden
March 13, 2013
• On average, three women a day die as a result of domestic violence and
guns are the weapons most often used.
• Research shows that women whose partner threatens them with a gun or
other weapon are 20 times more likely to subsequently be murdered than
other abused women.
• Mass shooting incidents are often related to domestic violence. One study
shows that in 40% of the mass shootings—defined as four or more
victims—that occurred between 2009 and 2012, the shooter targeted and
killed a current or former spouse or intimate partner. The other victims
were children, co-workers, or other innocent bystanders caught in the
• Federal law prohibits many domestic violence offenders from possessing
firearms, meaning that these individuals cannot buy a gun when a
background check is performed.
• A recent study found that the number of women shot to death by an
intimate partner is 38% lower in states that require background checks for
• By ensuring that all appropriate information about domestic violence
offenders gets into the background check system and that background
check loopholes are closed, we can save women’s lives.