Home May Not be a Safe Place for Many African-American Women

Home May Not be a Safe Place for Many African-American Women

When I googled quotes about “home” I found literally thousands of them. Some quotes had a philosophical or literary bent, others were warm and fuzzy, and nearly all of the quotes instilled a sense of trust, belonging and unconditional love in their description of home.

Indeed, there is no place like home – unless you are a victim of intimate partner homicide. The Illinois Violent Death Reporting System Brief released today reports that 2/3 of the intimate partner homicides (IPH) that occurred in 5 Illinois counties from 2005 to 2010 occurred in the victim’s home. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about that.

Intimate partner homicide victims are older (in their mid 30’s) and the majority are female (60%) which differs from the demographics of most of homicide victims (15-24 year old males) in Chicago. What doesn’t differ between the two types of homicide victims (IPH and non-IPH) is that both groups are overwhelmingly African-American.

To die from violence is horrific; to die from violence in your home at the hands of someone who loves you, or once loved you, adds another layer of anguish and despair. We don’t know from the data brief how many children the victims or perpetrators had between them (or with others), but it is not farfetched (considering the age of the victims) to think that likely there are children who no longer have a mother or a father.

Not only are these children’s lives shattered, but it is hard to imagine the next generation won’t be negatively affected as well. Think about it: many of us who are parents often say that parenting is the hardest job we will ever have — imagine how much tougher that would be if your parenting role model was either the victim or the perpetrator of intimate partner homicide?

From the data brief, we know that:

  • Three-fourths of the intimate partner homicides occurred during an altercation
  • One-third of the victims tested positive for alcohol (we don’t know how many perpetrators tested positive)
  • Nearly half of the deaths involved a firearm.

We can’t say for certain from the data, but it does imply that there was a certain amount of impulsiveness to these murders. Firearms are a relatively easy to use, lethal weapon—if access to firearms by perpetrators could be minimized, there may be a decrease in these types of deaths. It would be helpful to know if the guns used were illegally or legally obtained. With more information, it may allow us to develop effective prevention strategies.

Intimate partner violence is a complex health issue. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE, thehotline.org) is a resource to provide support for victims and tools to find safety.

Home Sweet Home — a sentiment that should mean more than just a saying embroidered on a pillow.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page