Best Practices andCommunity Collaborations to Prevent Domestic Violence HomicidesInVEST Web-Based Training
The following case study is based on a review of lawenforcement reports, newspaper articles, and a telephoneinterview with a relative of the perpetrator. Out of respect forthe victim, the perpetrator and their families, the initials of thevictim and perpetrator have been changed. Faces of Fatality Volume II
In August 2010, B.R., age 22, was murdered by aformer intimate partner, C.S. age 27, who then took hisown life. The murder/suicide occurred five days afterB.R.’s ex-parte petition for an Injunction for ProtectionAgainst Dating Violence was denied, and C.S. hadbeen served with notice of a hearing for the court todetermine whether to issue a final injunction.B.R. moved to Florida in 2007 to attend school. Shegraduated in May 2010 and was employed at the timeof her murder.Background on victim and perpetratorC.S. was born the same year his father died. As ayoung child his mother was unable to care for him, andhe was raised by his maternal grandmother. As ateenager, C.S. was placed in foster care because hewould not go to school.
According to his relative, C.S was a good student butdid not want to attend school because he was beingbullied. C.S. completed his GED and a technicalcourse In 2001 he began working and remainedemployed by the same company until themurder/suicide. C.S.’s supervisor reported that he wasa very good worker, never called in sick and was veryquiet.RelationshipsIn January 2010, B.R. and C.S. met through an onlinesocial networking site and began dating inFebruary, 2010. B.R. ended the relationship in April2010, but they continued to remain friends and wereoccasionally intimate. B.R.’s roommate reported thatC.S. continued to contact B.R. saying he wanted to bewith her, and
that she thought C.S. was obsessed with B.R.In April 2010, C.S. met another woman through adifferent online social networking site and they begandating. She told law enforcement that they went outtogether every week and that C.S. made videos ofthem having sex on his cell phone. In her statement topolice, she stated that C.S. did not drink or usedrugs, and that they both were seeing other peoplebut he never mentioned B.R. by name. She said shenever saw any weapons and he did not seem violent.C.S. did tell her that he had been in trouble with thelaw as a teenager and was having problems with a co-worker. She eventually discovered that C.S. was on alarge number of other social networking sites and thathe was seeing several other women, sometimes justhours before they went out together.
She said that in August, 2010, she needed aroommate and C.S. asked about moving in with her.When they went out the day before thehomicide, C.S. told her he wanted to move in as herboyfriend, and that he became angry and “startedacting jealous” when she said he could move in as aroommate, not as her boyfriend.StalkingIn August, 2010, C.S. began following B.R. to herapartment complex, and began sending herphotographs and videos of him having sex with otherwomen. He sent her texts, telling her he could notlive without her and that he had nothing else to livefor. B.R. told C.S. that she wanted no further contactwith him and blocked his number, but his sexually
explicit messages continued. During the policeinvestigation, one of B.R.’s co-workers reported thatC.S. made multiple threats to kill himself or B.R. if hecould not be with her.Eight days prior to the homicide, B.R. called the policebecause C.S. was watching her from his car in theparking lot of her apartment. She told officers that hispresence was “weird” but said she was not afraid, justthat she thought he was acting “creepy.” B.R. advisedpolice about the text messages and images shereceived from C.S., but did not want to pursue charges.She asked the officers to tell him to leave and not tocontact her again. The officers escorted C.S. off theproperty and told him if he returned or continued to textor call her he would be charged with a crime.
The following day B.R. went to the police departmentto report that C.S. was stalking her. The officer calledC.S. and told him that charges had been filed againsthim and not to contact B.R. The officer reported thatC.S. became upset and denied everything. B.R.completed a victim statement reporting that C.S. toldher he would not stop texting or following her until shewent back to him or he found out she was not seeingother men. She wrote that she had repeatedly toldhim to stop contacting her, but he continued to sendtexts that were sexually explicit and saying he couldnot live without her and had nothing else to live for.C.S. told her he saw her leave another person’sapartment and accurately described what she waswearing. B.R. further wrote that she started receivingtext messages from strangers responding to anadvertisement on Craig’s List under “Intercourse.”
The ad included her cell phone number and that saidshe was “all about fun and games.” She began toreceive voice mail messages that sounded like heavybreathing. She then received another text that she hadanother ad placed on Craig’s List. B.R. stated that shebelieved C.S. was responsible for placing the ads. Inher statement, B.R. said that she did not feel safe andwanted to press charges or file for an injunction.B.R. filed an ex parte petition for a temporaryInjunction for Protection Against Dating Violence onAugust 23, 2010. In the petition she stated that shewas afraid to come out of the house because C.S.watched the apartment, followed her and madeharassing phone calls. She further stated that she had“been violated on the internet.” B.R.’s ex parte petitionwas denied the next day, a court date was set for a
hearing on a final injunction, and C.S. was servedwith the petition and notice of hearing.The following day, police met B.R. to have her signthe stalking complaint. She told the officer that shehad not heard from C.S. since they called him andthat they must have “scared him off.” She did not tellthe officer that her petition for a temporary injunctionhad been denied.The Homicide/SuicideThe day before the homicide, C.S. checked into themotel where their bodies would later be found. Thatnight, he went out with the two other womenmentioned previously. One of the women reportedthat he told her he had to pick up a friend from workat 6:00 am.
While getting ready for work the morning of themurder (at 4:45 a.m.), B.R.’s roommate heard hersay “Oh my God, really!” The roommate thought B.R.was either on the phone or responding to a text. B.R.then told her she was leaving for work and would seeher there. The roommate became concerned whenB.R. did not arrive at work, and after returning to theirapartment to look for her and attempting to call hercell phone, she called the police at 7:58 a.m. B.R.’sparents called law enforcement from their home stateexpressing their concern that it was unlike her not togo to work without calling her employer.Law enforcement issued an alert for B.R.’s car andtag number and requested a “ping” of her cell phone.While no one had been able to reach her, there were
two hits from the “ping” both from that morning – bothfrom within the county. Law enforcement continued tosearch for both B.R. and C.S. Law enforcement foundC.S.’s car in the parking lot of an apartment complex inthe area.The next morning the motel manager discovered B.R.and C.S.’s bodies in a room in the motel C.S. checkedinto the day before, when there was no response tocalls regarding checking out. C.S., who tested positivefor cocaine, apparently shot B.R. and then shot andkilled himself. B.R’s car was in the motel parking lot.
Factors in the case that oftenindicate increased risk include: B.R had broken off the relationship C.S stalked and cyber-stalked B.R. B.R attempted to make the separation permanent by reporting the stalking to police and filing a petition for an Injunction for Protection Against Dating Violence. C.S. was reportedly obsessed with B.R. C.S. threatened to kill B.R. and himself if she would not resume the relationship. C.S. tested positive for cocaine
“Each and every domestic violence homicide isdevastating and represents far more than a statistic in areport. These are people whose lives were taken at thehands of someone they once trusted, someone they onceloved. These are families and friends dealing with the lossof a loved one, these are children left without a parent, andin some cases, without both parents. All deserve answers.Through the work of the statewide domestic violencefatality review team we are better able to understand thesefatalities and look for the answers these families deserve.We are honored to partner with the Office of the AttorneyGeneral and work with the incredible professionals thatmake up the statewide team. Their dedication andcommitment, coupled with the local domestic violencefatality review teams will make a difference in the work toend domestic violence deaths.” -Tiffany Carr, President/CEO, Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
To increase the knowledge about the InVEST Project To understand the risk factors for domestic violence homicide To understand the benefits and concerns of using assessment tools. To learn about the Coordinated Community Response (CCR) model
InVEST ProgramThe Intimate Violence EnhancedService Team is a unique statewideprogram designed to provideintensive advocacy and assistance toindividuals identified to be inpotentially lethal situations.
Statewide InitiativeImplemented in 2006 in the four counties with the highest DV homicide rates (FDLE): Hubbard House/Duval County (Initiated by Jacksonville in 1998) Peaceful Paths/Alachua County Harbor House/Orange County SafeHouse of Seminole/Seminole County Safespace Inc./St. Lucie County In 2009 additional sites began InVEST The Haven of RCS/Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center/Sarasota Police Department The Shelter for Abused Women and Children/Collier County Sheriff’s Office The Spring of Tampa Bay/Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Sunrise of Pasco/Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Women In Distress/Broward County Sheriff’s Office
Partnerships Because at-risk survivors of domestic violence are often afraid to seek services, many times they do not receive safety planning or risk assessments. InVEST relies on law enforcement and domestic violence centers to work together in order to identify potential participants.
Individuals identified as high risk for homicide are assisted by domestic violence advocates and trained law enforcement officers. Services are at no cost, empowerment-based and dependent on the survivor’s desire to participate. InVEST participants receive services and advocacy throughout civil and/or criminal processes and until their situation becomes safe or they choose to exit the program.
Enhanced Services through InVEST: Non-traditional approach to advocacy by community-based domestic violence centers. Center initiates communication with the survivor Abbreviated risk assessment conducted on scene by law enforcement (voluntary for survivor) Daily review of police reports using specified criteria.
InVEST services are FREE and confidential.Participation is completely voluntary. Services include: Safety Planning and Domestic Violence Advocacy Assistance in filing for Victim’s Compensation and Relocation Assistance in filing for a Domestic Violence Injunction Referrals for legal assistance Information about other certified domestic violence center services such as emergency shelter and support groups.
Partnerships are guided by a Memorandum of Understanding Teams include advocates, officers, and civil/criminal systems working in a comprehensive system of survivor safety through batterer intervention models. Law Enforcement works to enforce batterer accountability while DV advocates work to create safety strategies with the survivor. Heavily rely on Coordinated Community Response (CCR) models
The Faces of Fatality June 2012 Report 192 women, children and men lost their lives during 2011 in Florida as a result of domestic violence The FDLE Uniform Crime Report reflected that domestic violence simple stalking increased 65.1%, and stalking is widely recognized as an underreported offense. Stalking is a common precursor to domestic violence/dating violence homicide. In 21% of cases, there were known allegations by the decedent of stalking by the perpetrator prior to the homicide.
Domestic Violence (DV) Homicide inFlorida continued… 92% of incidents involved a firearm. 94% of perpetrators were male and most involved males killing their female intimate partners. 74% were intimate partner murder-suicides. Females were the victims in 96% of these intimate partner murder-suicides. Children witnessed the murder-suicide or found the bodies of slain family members in 43% of the cases. 39 of the cases involved multiple murder victims; of those, 34 were firearm related murder-suicides.
Coordinated Community Response ◦ The role each agency provides is specific and specialized. ◦ CCR efforts are ongoing. ◦ Training and evaluation of the coordinated community response is ongoing. ◦ The outcome is focused on the shared goals of survivor safety and batterer accountability.
There are four key beliefs that underlie the commitment to a CCR:The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence CCR Toolkit
Nolonger seen as the victim’s problem. This belief can mobilize the community to ask what they can do instead.
Criminaljustice professionals prepare to move forward in holding offenders accountable on the evidence in the case not on views/beliefs about the victim.
Communities should extend outreach to victims in a way that is safe instead of laying the responsibility on the victim to initiate reaching out for services.
Coordinated response to domestic violence is also a form of CRIME PREVENTION. Through the coordinated response, the general community becomes aware and educated about the nature of the crimes and the role society has in dismantling all forms of domestic violence.
POTENTIAL LETHALITY OFSTALKING An Intimate Partner Violence study revealed that 76% of women murdered and 85% of attempted murders, the victim had been stalked by their partner beforehand.
CCR work in response toenhancing the safety ofstalking victims and holdingoffenders accountablerequires effective strategiessuch as:
Collaborations among: ◦ Law Enforcement ◦ Prosecutors ◦ Victim Service Providers ◦ Criminal Justice Agencies ◦ Agencies serving children and youth ◦ Faith Communities ◦ Animal Service Personnel
A Systemic Response Educate – Increase key partners and victim awareness of stalking behavior and risks Investigate – Identify patterns and modes of stalking Communicate – Develop safe information sharing and tracking systems. Prosecute – Increase criminal justice response and hold offenders accountable for their stalking behavior.
Empowerment-based AdvocacyThe survivor has the best idea about how the abuser thinks and what he is capable of. Unless it is being publicly displayed (i.e. through police reports), the most current information about a batterer may not be known. Someone with “all the signs” might never perform lethal acts and someone with no outward signs may. Showing independence: new job or promotion, car purchase, start school. Why do these increase someone’s risk?
Our Traditional Focus has been on helping survivors of domestic violence leave their relationships. This focus often leads survivors who contact agencies to believe we have nothing to offer them beyond emergency shelter.
Advocacy Beyond Leaving Contact might be part of a safety strategy. Leaving is often a high risk decision. Many survivors have no choice about contact, ordered by a court to share decision-making about the children and to see him each time he picks up the children for visitation. Even if visitation exchanges are made through a visitation center or third party, a survivor will still be in contact through her children as she monitors how they are doing and listens to them talk about visits with their father.
Approach to Advocacy Please click on the link below this slideand read the document titled, “Advocacy Beyond Leaving.”
Ongoing Advocacy willinclude: Providing information on financial support available for transportation Providing advocacy in the injunction process, on relocation, and with victims of crimes application Providing advocacy with the criminal justice system or any civil court process; interviews with law enforcement; interviews with the local State Attorney’s Office when applicable Providing a 911 cell phone Providing necessary legal referrals and other important immediate resources (food, TANF, housing).
The most DANGEROUS andINTIMIDATING time… The period between arrest and trial can be especially dangerous and intimidating for victims in cases of intimate partner violence. The risk may be even higher if the batterer sees the case as evidence that the victim is trying to leave the relationship.
RISK ASSESSMENTS There are a variety of risk assessments that are used to determine re-assault and potential for homicide. These assessments give us a way of communicating indications of potential higher risk. Always be aware that there is no true measurability or predictions as to when someone may kill.
A REALISTIC APPROACH: A batterer may become lethal without notice. A batterer does not decide overnight to kill. Using an assessment may be helpful, but it cannot determine up-to-the-minute information about a batterer. We cannot predict what will happen, but we want her to be aware of the danger of homicide.
DANGER ASSESSMENT (DA) A tool used by advocates and community partners to evaluate the likelihood of re-assault in the short term or lethality in the long term. Danger assessment is a continuous process of risk management. ◦ Developed in 1985 to support the autonomy of survivors as the expert in their situations. In 1989, strangulation (often incorrectly referred to as choking) was added to the assessment. ◦ The Duluth Model was the first organized community collaborative response effort.
IMPORTANT: FCADV recommends that full risk assessments are completed only with an advocate from a certified domestic violence center because;1) advocate privilege in Florida is specific in its protections and,2) any information from a report can be found in public records or discovery… The safety and privacy of the survivor may be compromised if full risk assessments are completed by non-certified domestic violence center advocates.
Therefore, The following information about risk assessments is provided to help community partners understand the dynamics of risk assessments. Three recommended risk assessment questions will follow to be used by law enforcement and other InVEST community partners. Only Certified Domestic Violence Center Advocates should be conducting full risk assessments.
LAW ENFORCEMENT BEST PRACTICES 911 Calls If the victim chooses to speak to the hotline, please step away from the victim so that his/her confidentiality can be maintained. DO NOT inform the batterer of the Risk Assessment.
FCADV recommended riskassessments on scene: Has he/she ever used a weapon against you or threatened you with a weapon? Has the perpetrator threatened to kill you or your children? Do you think that the perpetrator is capable of killing you? Yes to any of the three questions should result in an automatic referral to InVEST/enhanced DV services.
Survivor Information Assure that you have the most up-to-date contact information for the survivor. Do not rely on any information that may be in the system already. Ask what address and phone number she may be reached at. Ask the survivor if it’s safe to leave a message.
Emphasize necessity for elevated alertness. Explain why you think she is at heightened risk for re-assault or homicide. Ask how she feels about the information you’ve shared with her. Be open to having a conversation about the risks and benefits of getting additional support.
Ongoing Safety Plans 10 Common Ideas to Address1. How to get away if there is an emergency2. How to get help if leaving is not an option3. Where to go once she is away (if leaving)4. How to be secure at a new location5. How to keep a link to helpers/support network6. How to keep children and pets safe7. Protecting “what is yours” (bank accounts, email accounts, personal property)8. Safety at work and leisure9. Anticipating/responding to batterer’s actions: who to call, how to keep a paper trail of incidents and the dates and times they occurred10. Asking about technology
Perception, Perception, Perception If the woman is very afraid and says she will be killed or may be killed, then the possibility of life-threatening violence is present. It appears that the best approach to screening for life-threatening violence is a combination of the woman’s perspective and the advocate’s assessment. Safety Planning with Battered Woman: Complex lives/Difficult choices Jill Davies, Eleanor Lyon and Diane Monti-Catania, 1998
THE PLAN belongs to the survivor. If she doesn’t prepare it and make it her own, it will not work. Itshould be reviewed as often as there is a change such as court rulings or filing for a divorce. Milestones that relates to the batterer.
Batterer behavior can not bescientifically proven; anybatterer may become lethal atany time.
“Determining key risk factors, over and above a history of domestic violence, that contribute to the abuse that escalates to murder will help us identify and intervene with battered women who are most at risk.” - Jacquelyn C. Campbell, PhD, RN Anna D. Wolf Endowed Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs ,Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing
“Battered women are usually the best evaluators of the potential for lethal violence because they generally have more information about the batterer than anyone other than the batterer himself.” Barbara Hart Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse
“Success is measured byour efforts to reduceisolation and to improveoptions for safety.”Family Violence Prevention Fundhttp://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/file/HealthCare/FVPF%20July%2029th%20Webinar.pdf
ACTIVITY FOR YOUR CCR Writedown 2 action steps or things you and your agency can do to work more closely together with other agencies to implement a coordinated community response that will increase survivor safety and offender accountability and share it with your CCR team.
Questions? For additional information please contact:FCADV’s Statewide InVEST Coordinator (850) 425-2749 www.fcadv.org