Statewide report shows fatal domestic violence incidents, deaths continued to increase in 2019
Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board recommendations include focusing resources on child survivors, prohibiting perpetrators from possessing firearms
Dec. 4, 2020 (DENVER, Colo.)— At least 70 people died in Colorado in 2019 as a result of domestic violence incidents, according to a report from the Colorado Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board that the Colorado Office of the Attorney General released today.
Of the 70 people who died from a domestic violence incident, 39 were primary victims, one was a child, and 27 were the primary perpetrators of domestic violence. This is an increase in overall deaths and primary victim deaths from 2018. In 2018, a total of 43 people died as a result of domestic violence incidents, and 26 of them were primary victims. In 2019, 13 more primary victims died as a result of domestic violence than in 2018.
The report also showed that 19 children were involved in 12 fatal incidents in 2019.
“The 2019 data and cases offer several vital lessons, including the toll that these cases take on children,” said Attorney General Phil Weiser, who chairs the board. “Nineteen children were affected in 2019 by domestic violence, which has direct consequences to their physical and mental health. The losses to these children animate our first recommendation this year, which is to focus resources on the child survivors of these incidents.”
The Colorado General Assembly established the review board in 2017 to examine data on domestic violence fatalities, identify ways to prevent these tragedies, and make policy recommendations to the legislature.
Recommendations in this year’s report include the following:
- Developing policies and resources to support children exposed to domestic violence and domestic violence fatalities: Research shows that children reside in 60% or more of households where domestic violence is perpetrated, and many perpetrators of domestic violence witnessed and/or experienced abuse as children. Focusing on providing resources to children may help them heal from trauma and/or prevent them from becoming perpetrators in the future.
- Implementing the Lethality Assessment Program across Colorado: The Lethality Assessment Program helps first responders identify victims of domestic violence who are in the highest danger of being killed by their partners, and tailor a response. In the coming year, the review board and partners will work to develop guidelines and training resources for communities who wish to implement the program.
- Prohibiting domestic violence perpetrators from possessing firearms: Research shows that domestic violence perpetrators are more likely to kill their victims than those without firearms, and that states that adopt laws prohibiting the possession of firearms by perpetrators of domestic violence saw a decrease in domestic violence fatalities. The board recommends Colorado continue to enhance policies and practices designed to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic violence perpetrators, to increase both victim and community safety.
Specific findings from the report include:
- The plurality (27, or 38.5%) of domestic violence victims in Colorado in 2019 were women killed by a current or former male partner;
- Gunshot wounds were the most common cause of death, with 45 (64.2%) people dying as a result of this type of injury;
- The most common type of fatal domestic violence-related incident was murder only (31, or 51.6%), and the next most common were incidents involving a suicide only (11, or 18.3%); and
- Denver County had the highest number of fatal domestic violence-related incidents (15), followed by Adams County (6), and Jefferson County (6).
Per C.R.S.§ 24-31-702(4), the report was submitted to the Health and Human Services and Judiciary Committees of the Colorado Senate, and the Public Health Care and Human Services and Judiciary Committees of the Colorado House of Representatives.
This report, as well as a list of domestic violence resources, are available on the Colorado Department of Law website at bit.ly/DVFRB.