Domestic violence homicides were at a ten year high in 2009, according to the annual report from Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Lisa Blanchard’s sister, Tracy Judd and her year-old niece Deja Renee were among the murder 52 domestic violence murder victims. “That statistic alone should be enough to realize the urgency of doing more to putting a stop to domestic violence,” Blanchard said Thursday during a press conference at the Dane County Courthouse in Madison. “When are we as a community going to feel and act on that urgency? I say we start now.”
The report includes 52 homicide victims and 15 perpetrators who committed suicide, including Tyrone Adair, who killed Blanchard’s sister Tracy Judd and her year-old niece Deja Renee Adair, in December. Adair also killed Amber Weigel and two year-old Neveah Weigel-Adair before taking his own life.
Patti Seger, the coalition’s executive director, said advocates hope to widen the conversation about domestic violence. “For many years, we’ve focused our efforts solely on criminal justice responses,” said Seeger. “Criminal Justice folks are a really important part, but I also believe that we have to involve a broader community in this work. It’s not just the responsibility of the domestic abuse service programs, it’s not just the job of the cops and the prosecutors. It’s all of our responsibility to build the power to stop and prevent domestic violence in our future.”
“The key things that we have to focus on: early reporting, continued reporting,” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, who brings a background of prosecuting domestic violence offenders to his position. “We know . . . the most dangerous times for victims are when they are actually standing up, and taking back their life. We need to start building self-esteem in our children, in our young women and young men. ” Reverend Alexander Gee, Jr. is a Madison pastor working to get the clergy more involved in combating domestic violence. “We can’t strengthen our community, if this issue continues to be invisible, and no one speaks about it,” said Gee, who agreed with D.A. Ozame on the importance of teaching empowerment to young men.
WCADV’s Seeger, asked whether the economic recession may have been a contributing factor to the year’s increase in domestic violence deaths, said she couldn’t say definitively. “But we saw a very dramatic increase in homicides start right around the end of 2008 and all of 2009. That sure looks like there’s a connection to the economic downturn. Data from the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance indicates 146 people were murdered in Wisconsin last year, meaning domestic violence accounted for about one-third of all homicides. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.