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October 25, 2021

Domestic violence fatality report shines light on pandemic’s cost to victims  

The 17 deaths so far in 2021 bring total domestic violence deaths in Iowa to 358 since 1995 

DES MOINES - Seventeen people lost their lives as a result of domestic violence in the first nine months of 2021. Eleven women, four men and two bystanders were killed as a result of these domestic violence cases.  

“The number of fatalities in the first nine months of 2021 is equal to all of those recorded in 2020, and with three more months to go, is a sign of a tragic trajectory,” said Sandi Tibbetts Murphy, CVAD director.   

The 17 deaths in 2020 were the most since 2010, according to the Domestic Violence Fatality Chronicle. The report, issued twice a year since 1995 by the Iowa Attorney General’s Crime Victim Assistance Division, details the lives lost to domestic violence in the state of Iowa. The report’s fall release coincides with October's Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  

Since 1995, 358 men, women and bystanders, including minors, have been killed as a result of domestic violence in Iowa The stories of these victims can be found on the Iowa Attorney General’s website under publications. 

“These fatalities shine a spotlight on the challenges Iowans have encountered in receiving domestic violence services during the pandemic,” said Tibbetts Murphy. “Some victims can’t leave their homes and services haven’t been as accessible. These issues have limited the ability to serve victims. And sadly, research has shown when services are limited, we see a rise in domestic violence homicides.”  

This is unfortunate correlation could continue beyond 2021.  

“If you look at the cost of the pandemic and Victims of Crime Act funding cuts, the fear is we will continue to see our ability to serve victims further limited,” Tibbetts Murphy said.  

Last month, CVAD announced that it had received $12.76 million in federal funds for victim assistance and victim compensation programs in Iowa. The award, which applies to federal fiscal year 2022, represents a decrease in funding from the $17.9 million awarded last fiscal year.  

It is expected that funding will continue to decrease, by as much as 20% in immediate years, before the so-called VOCA fix, passed by Congress this summer, goes into effect. Before the VOCA fix, CVAD anticipated  that funding decreases would result in nearly 5,000 fewer victims of crime served by these programs in fiscal year 2021 and nearly 23,500 fewer victims assisted in fiscal year 2022.   

Despite a decrease in funding, Tibbetts Murphy said it remains important to ensure available services are reaching Iowans. There are a number of domestic violence resources available, including:  

Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline - 800-770-1650 

  • Is free and confidential  
  • Answers calls 24 hours a day, 365 days a year  
  • Can connect to nearest Iowa programs, which: 
    • Offer crisis counseling and safety planning 
    • Refer to shelter and housing assistance 
    • Provide legal advocacy 
    • Provide access to community resources 

National Domestic Violence Hotline - 800-799-SAFE or 799-7233; TTY 800-787-3224; Text Line – Text “START” to 88788 

  • Free and confidential, available 24/7 
  • Can connect to local resources and programs 

 Love is Respect Teen Dating Violence Hotline - 866-331-9474; Text Line – Text “LOVEIS” to 22522 

  • Free and confidential  
  • Can connect to local resources, provides information about personal safety and healthy relationships 

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