There has been a significant drop in the number of domestic violence homicides in Wisconsin. A representative for the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence says the lower murder rate is due at least partly to the gradual improvement in the economy last year.
The latest statistics are for 2011, when forty people died in domestic violence incidents, including three where the perpetrators also took their own lives. Tony Gibart of WCADV says that is 18 fewer deaths than 2010, and 27 fewer than 2009 when the economy was at its worst. "There is research that economic struggle makes it much more difficult for victims of domestic violence to escape violent situations, and so this kind of spike that we saw during the worst of the economic downturn, I think there is a connection there."
As in past years, the vast majority of perpetrators of domestic violence homicides were male. Eight of the victims were children under the age of six. Eleven of the adult victims were women and 18 were men. Gibhart says it is not clear yet whether the recent deaths of three young boys in a house fire in Argyle will be counted as domestic violence homicides in the 2012 report. Their father has been charged in the case. "We do not include every instance of a homicide that occurs at the hands of a parent to a child. We only include those homicides that fit that category if there was evidence of ongoing abuse in the household."
Gibhart says the 2011 homicide numbers are close to the 11-year average for domestic violence murders in the state.