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New solutions are needed. Intimate partner violence and intimate partner homicide disproportionately impact certain communities. While rates of women killed by intimate partners declined in the U.S. between 1980 and 1995, this trend reversed and, as of 2008, there has been a 5% increase in the proportion of women killed by an intimate partner since 1980. Further, Black women are murdered by men at a rate more than 2.5 times higher than white women and 61% of all homicides of Hispanic women were IPV-related, a higher proportion than any other ethnic group. Now, there is even more urgency as the risk and severity of domestic violence has increased due to the environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We want to again work to identify and close systemic gaps, closely examine the effectiveness of approaches in groups experiencing higher rates of intimate partner violence and customize our work in Black and brown communities to make sure they have pathways to safety. There is an unprecedented opportunity to look at how we can better partner with communities and bring together effective practices, the latest research and strong partnerships with sharpened focus and attention in order to affect change and have greater impact in reducing domestic violence homicide.
In 2002, while advocates at the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center were trying to help a woman named Dorothy find safety from her abusive husband, she was killed in her home as her daughter was on the phone with the police. Her husband was released by the court four days before on low-cash bail. After Dorothy was killed, the advocates set out to understand where the system had failed her and how to prevent this from happening again.
From this event, the Domestic Violence High Risk Team (DVHRT) was born. The model is based on the research of Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell from Johns Hopkins University that identiﬁed the risk factors present when a woman is killed by their intimate partner. The team-based model looks to identify and close systemic gaps and bring together community partners that previously operated in silos.
The first DVHRT in Newburyport, Massachusetts is still in place today. In the ten years prior to its implementation, there were eight domestic violence-related deaths in the greater Newburyport community; since starting in 2005, the team has accepted 200 high-risk cases resulting in zero homicides.
Working in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges, advocates and community leaders, the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center has now trained communities in over 200 jurisdictions across the U.S. in the DVHRT model as well as the Danger Assessment for Law Enforcement Tool (DA-LE). The Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) recognized the DVHRT Model as a “leading promising practice” in intimate partner homicide prevention.