“Listen to and support your friend or family member if they disclose an instance of violence to you,” Caitlin says in her column this week.
Once every 16 hours, a woman is killed by a current or former romantic partner.
More specifically, in 2017, more than 50% of murdered women were killed by an intimate partner, according to a United Nations study. More than 80% of homicide victims targeted by intimate partners were women.
A recent quadruple murder believed to have been committed by a Sumpter Township man reminded me of these painfully grim statistics.
Raymond Lee Bailey, 37, turned himself into authorities after reportedly admitting in text messages to killing his ex-girlfriend and three of her family members Aug. 15. He’s since been charged with four counts of firstdegree murder by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.
In a GoFundMe account to pay for funerals for the four victims, a family member alluded to Bailey threatening to kill Laura Tanner prior to her murder. In October, 2019, charges of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and domestic violence reportedly were dismissed against Bailey, according to Third Judicial Court’s public online case records.
Family members say Laura was the alleged victim in the case.
She’s not the only woman to have sought help before becoming a homicide victim. About a third of women contact police about a domestic violence incident before they’re murdered, according to state and FBI data.
So what can we do to prevent their deaths?
I’m not an expert, so, of course, I’d recommend we listen to the advice of mental health professionals, nonprofits organizations that support abuse victims and crime data detailing the circumstances of gender-based crimes. Having said that, here’s what I propose we do as laypersons:
•First, support closing what’s known as the “boyfriend loophole.”
The Violence Against Women Act, initially signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, was established to provide federal funds toward the investigation and prosecution of violence crimes against women. It included a provision for gun restrictions on those convicted of domestic violence crimes against a current or former married partner.
The law did not include boyfriends or girlfriends, until amended this year by a group of U.S. Congresswomen. While the amended law was passed by the House of Representatives, it has since stalled in the Senate, in part due to opposition by the National Rifle Association.
The law remains expired.
•Second, donate your time or money if and when you’re able.
Most domestic violence shelters and counseling organizations are nonprofits which rely on community donations. If you’re able, support local groups like Paula’s House and Family Counseling & Shelter Services.
Even if you can’t donate money, offering your time to volunteer at domestic violence shelters is invaluable to these groups which often are underfunded and understaffed.
•Most importantly, believe women.
There often are warning signs leading up to a homicide, showing that a perpetrator may be dangerous.
Listen to and support your friend or family member if they disclose an instance of violence to you.
For help, call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-8799 or visit thehotline.org.
Contact Caitlin Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.