BECKLEY, WV (WVNS)– In the United States in 2018, a woman was 11 times more likely to be killed by a man she knew than by a stranger, according to the Violence Policy Center, which collects data on domestic violence.
In 63 percent of those cases, the male offenders murdered their wives or girlfriends.
The same data showed Black women are at three times higher risk of being murdered by an intimate partner than white women. While alarming, the statistics do not surprise the advocates who work at AWAY, a non-profit that serves victims of sexual and domestic violence in southern West Virginia.
AWAY operates a shelter for those in immediate danger of sexual or domestic violence, along with their children. The group also offers other confidential services and resources to victims.
The group said on Monday, November 28, 2022, that there should be more focus in the education system on preventing violence in relationships.
They added the majority of the victims of violence are girls and women, who are often coerced to keep families together and who may have fears of leaving abusive partners because of child custody concerns, financial concerns or fears that the abuser will harm family members or neighbors, said Bonita Sarrett, a victim advocate at AWAY in Beckley.
“People always say, why doesn’t she leave?” Sarrett said. “Nobody says, ‘Why does he batter?’ Nobody asks that question.”
AWAY advocates said a male partner is more likely to become physically violent with his significant other if he’s trying to control her behavior.
Sarrett said education is key in teaching children, especially those from violent homes, their own rights and the rights of others.
Some West Virginia children see violence from grandparents, relatives and even parents, said Sarrett.
“It is a cycle,” she said. “The only way that cycle is going to get broken, in my opinion, is through education.”
She said education should begin in elementary school.