State Report Documents Fatal Domestic Violence Incidents, Deaths Up from 2018


At least 43 people died from domestic violence including eight more primary victims than 2017.

Dec. 12, 2019 (DENVER, Colo.)— At least 43 people died in Colorado in 2018 as a result of domestic violence incidents, according to a report from the Colorado Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board that the Colorado Office of the Attorney General released last month.

Of the 43 people who died from a domestic violence incident, there were 26 primary victims, two children, four other adults, and 11 primary perpetrators. This is an increase in overall deaths and primary victim deaths from 2017. In 2017, a total of 39 people died as a result of domestic violence incidents, and 18 of them were primary victims. In 2018, eight more primary victims died as a result of domestic violence than in 2017.

“The work of the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board is critical to our state’s overall strategy to understand domestic violence and prevent fatalities and near-death incidents,” said Attorney General Phil Weiser, who chairs the board. “The findings in this report can and should be integrated into our state’s policies around domestic violence response and prevention. We owe it to the victims and survivors to find effective methods to prevent these tragedies in Colorado.”

The Colorado General Assembly established the review board in 2017 to examine data on domestic violence fatalities, identify ways to prevent these tragedies, and make policy recommendations to the legislature.

The review board includes experts from fields that interact with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. The goal of the domestic violence fatality review process is to better understand the dynamics when a fatality occurs in order to help prevent future tragedies of intimate partner violence. The findings can be integrated into training of professionals and utilized to improve practices, and to determine what policies may be needed to further help prevent domestic violence.

Specific findings from the report include:

  • Of the individuals killed in 2018, the youngest was 3 and the oldest 64.
  • The plurality (20, or 47%) were women killed by a current or former male partner, consistent with research showing domestic violence fatalities are a highly gender-based phenomenon.
  • Gunshot wounds were the most common cause of death, with 27 (63%) people dying as a result of this type of injury.
  • Denver had the highest number of fatal domestic violence-related incidents (8), followed by Adams County (6), and Jefferson County (5).
  • Five of the top risk factors present in fatal domestic violence incidents that were studied in-depth by local review teams in 2018 were: ◦More than 90% of perpetrators were experiencing feelings of abandonment/betrayal;

◦More than 90% of perpetrators had a significant loss of perceived control;

◦More than 80% of perpetrators had a history of drug/alcohol abuse;

◦More than 80% of perpetrators exhibited possessiveness of the victim;

◦In 72.7% of the cases the perpetrator had a history of domestic violence.

Per C.R.S.§ 24-31-702(4), the report was submitted to the Health and Human Services and Judiciary Committees of the Colorado Senate, and the Public Health Care and Human Services and Judiciary Committees of the Colorado House of Representatives.

This report is available on the web site of the Colorado Department of Law at the following link:

Office of Community Engagement: State Impact Programs

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