HomeBerlin Letters & OpinionsDeadly disturbances 

Deadly disturbances 

Domestic violence is a danger to its victims - and the police

It was, on the face of it, a routine domestic disturbance call that brought two New York police officers to a Harlem apartment last year. 

Until it wasn’t. One of the officers was killed at the scene, and the other died days later after encountering a man who ambushed them.   

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There was nothing routine about the circumstances of that domestic violence call when you consider this: One of the most dangerous circumstances for police is a domestic disturbance or domestic violence call. According to FBI data, between 2011 to 2020, about 500 officers were killed intentionally nationwide, and 43 of those deaths resulted from domestic calls. 

As for other victims in those scenarios – mostly, but not all women – here’s another sobering statistic: The number of females murdered by current or ex-male partners between 2001 and 2012 was nearly 12,000, according to the Huffington Post, about twice the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq in the same period.

According to domesticviolenceresearch.org, 22% of individuals are assaulted by a partner at least once in their lifetimes; 23% are females and 19.3% are males. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year. 

But such incidents are not limited to spouses. In the New York case, the officers were responding to a mother’s call about her son’s disturbing conduct, according to CNN. That son shot at the officers. Domestic violence can happen in any relationship, regardless of ethnicity, income, religion, education or sexual orientation, according to Psych Central, a digital publisher that focuses on mental health. 

Abuse happens between married couples, those living together, even those dating regularly. It happens in teen, heterosexual, gay and lesbian relationships. Most strikingly, it also happens to victims who have already left an abuser. Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the weeks after escaping than at any other time in a relationship, according to the Domestic Violence Intervention Program. 

Abuse is often long-term and not confined to one call for help. 

All of these are among reasons to reflect on the abuse now: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to the National Day Calendar, here’s how to know you’re in an abusive relationship that you need to get out of:

  • Your partner has hit you, beat you, or strangled you in the past.
  • Your partner is possessive and constantly checks up on you, or is jealous and accuses you of being unfaithful.
  • Your partner puts you down, blames you for his or her violent outbursts and tells you nobody else will want you if you leave.
  • Your partner threatens you or your family.
  • Your partner physically and sexually abuses you. If he or she pushes, shoves, hits or  makes you have sex when you don’t want to, it’s abuse.

Want to help someone being abused? Let them know you’re concerned about their safety and that you want to help. Be supportive and listen. Emphasize that they are not alone and that people want to offer support. Finally, offer help like child care or transportation.

If you are in immediate danger of abuse, call 911. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available at (800) 799–7233, 24 hours a day, seven days a week via phone and online chat.


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