KING COUNTY, Wash. - It’s an unsettling truth, domestic violence homicides in 2021 in the largest county in our state is on track to be possibly even worse than it was in 2020.
The pandemic had a devastating effect on the domestic violence crisis state and nationwide. Last year, domestic violence crimes made up 50% of all crimes against persons statewide, and 20% of all homicides were DV related.
On Thursday, the King County Prosecutor’s Office released grim figures for DV homicides. In 2019, there were just four. Last year, there were 18. And so far this year, there have been 15 cases. There were also two additional DV homicides where charges were not filed because it was a murder-suicide.
With two and a half more months left in the year, prosecutors say we’re on track to have another recording breaking year. And it’s not just murders.
"Suicide is a huge issue in domestic violence, many officer-involved shootings take place on domestic violence calls. Domestic violence homicide is a huge issue but we also have a number of associated homicides of people who are trying to intervene or domestic violence offenders who are killing other people," said David Martin, chair of the domestic violence unit in the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
Prosecutors say they’re putting a strong emphasis on making resources more available for survivors, and they’ve made great strides. For example, it’s now possible for survivors to get restraining orders online. But officials know there’s still a long way to go.
"This went from arguing and being roughed up to I almost died, that quick, and it can happen that quick," said Rebecca Martinez, a Fife woman who was recently attacked by her estranged husband, Shawn Rich, who is also known as Shawn Martinez. There’s a felony warrant out for him, and he’s still on the run.
Rebecca said it’s crucial that victims realize in a split second, the abuse could turn deadly.
"It was the scariest thing in my life I’ve been through, I thought I was going to die, I was seeing flashes of light. The pain was horrific."
She said she feels lucky to have gotten out alive, "Stay strong, know that it’s not your fault and please seek help."
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