Criminal violence against intimate partners fell by nearly two-thirds in recent years and has reached a record low, says McClatchy Newspapers. The declines were greatest for nonfatal attacks, which fell about 65 percent from 1993 to 2005, says the National Crime Victimization Survey administered by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. The data include a sharp drop in the number and proportion of men killed by female partners. Thirty years ago, women and men were killed by intimates in nearly equal numbers. By 2004, 1,159 women were killed by intimates but only 385 men were. The imbalance persists in 2005 figures, due out next month, says Marianne Zawitz of the statistics bureau.
The disproportion in fatalities, while seemingly adverse to women, reflects a major gain, said Richard Gelles, dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice: Abusive men are killed less often now because women can get free of them more easily. “We’ve eliminated a good deal of defensive homicide by giving women easier access to shelters and ERs and by measures such as mandatory arrest laws” that restrain or punish abusive spouses, Gelles said. Easier escape from abusive partners also helps explain the drop in nonlethal violence. It’s a category that includes rape and robbery but consists mainly of aggravated and simple assault. The 1993 rate was 5.8 per 1,000 people age 12 and older. Preliminary figures for 2005 put the rate at 2.0.