U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Tell the World What Happened to Me: Findings and Recommendations from the Washington State Domestic Violence Fatality Review

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2002
99 pages
This document provides findings and recommendations based on a review of 11 domestic violence fatalities between September 2000 and August 2002 in Washington State.
The Domestic Violence Fatality Review’s (DVFR) primary goals are to promote collaboration among agencies investigating and intervening in domestic violence; identify patterns in domestic violence-related fatalities; and formulate recommendations regarding the investigation, intervention, and prevention of domestic violence. Large gaps in community response to the abuse victims prior to their deaths were identified. There was a lack of contact with community- or system-based domestic violence advocates. Friends, family, and neighbors that knew about the abuse did not know how to support the victim and help her obtain safety. There was a failure on behalf of intervening professionals to recognize the danger abusers’ suicidal threats and behaviors represented to their families. The criminal justice system response to abusers was weak, inconsistent, and did not contribute significantly to victim safety. There were significant barriers for domestic violence victims with limited English proficiency in accessing help from the criminal justice, civil justice, and social service systems. Civil courts were ill-prepared to oversee the formulation of parenting plans that would protect the safety of the victims and their children when victims did leave their abusers. One key recommendation was that all courts issuing civil protection orders should establish advocacy in their protection order offices, and ensure that advocates have extensive training in how to assist women in safety planning. Another recommendation is that domestic violence programs increase their outreach and services to friends and family of domestic violence victims in order to increase the capacity of people in the community to support battered women. Other recommendations include changes in sentencing abusers, plans to provide equal protection and access to those with limited English abilities, court assessments to provide safety to victims and children, increasing judicial accountability, and protocols to identify the combination of suicide and domestic violence. 44 footnotes, 4 appendices