News Media Ignore Most CO Domestic Violence Victims

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The killings of Colorado women Shanann Watts and Kelsey Berreth got national publicity, but at least 38 other people were killed in Colorado last year in connection to domestic violence, the Denver Post reports. Many of those deaths got little local news coverage. Advocates in the field say it’s not uncommon for the disappearance and deaths of women such as Berreth and Watts — white, young and seemingly well-off — to get disproportionate media focus and public interest. “Certain lives matter and certain lives don’t,” said DoraLee Larson of the Denver Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. “That may be crass, but there is some truth to it. It’s absolutely a class, race and gender issue.” The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that about a third of all female murder victims in the U.S. are killed by a intimate partner.

Most Colorado victims had never reached out to domestic violence services or told many people — if any — about the abuse they were facing before they were killed, Larson said. Cases that got no national attention include a woman whose boyfriend is charged with strangling her and dumping her body in Utah behind some tree stumps and a Denver man who was arrested for killing his girlfriend in their apartment, putting her body in the trunk of his car and driving to Wyoming, where he was taken into custody. News media and the public have given more attention to domestic violence homicides when the victims or perpetrators are white and come from more affluent backgrounds, said criminologist Angela Gover of the University of Colorado Denver. A 2018 study by the Urban Indian Health Institute found that only one-fourth of cases of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women from urban areas got any media attention.

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