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New Jersey Must Do More

June 2, 2018

Star Ledger    June 2, 2018    from Digital Edition page 006


Heed Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

Two horrific stories of women shot to death by their husbands, in the presence of their children, published on consecutive days (“Two weeks before killing, a 911 call for help,” May 23; “Suit: Red flags ignored on cop who killed ex,” May 24), underscore why New Jersey must do more to assess the risk of serious bodily harm in cases of intimate partner violence.

The victims— Lydiah Okongo and Tamara Wilson-Seidle — knew their lives were in danger and went to the police repeatedly for protection. In both cases, risk factors indicated that the victims faced a potentially lethal threat. A victim’s perception that her life is in danger is itself one such factor, as is the abuser’s access to a gun.

Researchers estimate that in 50 percent of femicides, the perpetrator is a current or former intimate partner. And in half of those cases, the defendant has previously come in contact with the police, courts or child-protection systems. This means we can potentially save women’s lives by stopping perpetrators before they act.

We urge communities to establish a coordinated response to domestic violence based upon a comprehensive approach to risk that involves police, prosecutors, courts and domestic-violence agencies. Victims can learn what safety-enhancing options are available by contacting the New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-572-SAFE(7233).

Jane M. Hanson Executive Director, Partners for Women and Justice

Patricia P. Perlmutter Policy Counsel, Partners for Women and Justice Editor’s note: The second writer’s name was mistakenly omitted when this letter was published Friday.