Report: More than half of women murder victims killed by partner - WSMV News 4

Report: More than half of women murder victims killed by partners

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

More than half of all women who are killed die at the hands of their romantic partner, according to a study recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency is calling domestic violence a public health problem. In Davidson County, the rates of domestic violence are going up, and advocates say more needs to be done to prevent it before it turns deadly.

"Sometimes they blame themselves. They blame themselves for their loved one assaulting them," said Timothy Dickerson, director of the Davidson County Domestic Violence Prosecution and Support Unit. "This office is very aware of the domestic violence uprising in the community."

The report found 55 percent of women who are homicide victims were killed by their intimate partner. That's up from previous U.S. research that found intimate partners carried out more than 40 percent of homicides of women.

Dickerson said it's tough to get a victim to trust the court system and press charges.

"A lot of time the victims feel like, the defendants, they're kind of dependent on them for resources as far as home or helping with the household, so they really are sometimes skeptical about prosecuting," Dickerson said.

From January to June of this year in Davidson County, there was a 90 percent increase in the number of people charged in criminal court. A total of 507 defendants in 2017 compared to 266 defendants in the same period in 2016, according to the Davidson County District Attorney's Office.

That's over last year.

"I haven't had a case where a victim has been killed. I have had a case where a victim has been assaulted and left in the street for dead," Dickerson said.

As the CDC found, that violence escalates to lethal levels. Advocates told News 4 steps to prevent it need to happen earlier, but access to resources are slim in Tennessee. According to the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, there are 95 counties in the state and only a third of them have shelters for victims.

"So if you don't have a place to live, if you don't have an attorney who can help you with a divorce or custody of your children, you may end up staying with the batterer," said Kathy Walsh, executive director for the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Walsh said the best way to end the cycle is to educate children in schools on what domestic violence is and why it's wrong. But advocates said there's just not enough money for prevention programs.

The CDC report found more than half of the women killed by their partners involved firearms, and 20 percent of them were killed with a blade.

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