While domestic-violence offenses in New Jersey decreased by 1 percent in 2015, domestic-violence-related homicides increased by 16 percent, according to the latest numbers from State Police.
The State Police’s 2015 Domestic Violence Report released this week shows 49 domestic-violence homicides, the highest number documented since 2008, according to the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence.
“An increase of 16 (percent) means we still have some work to do,” said Donna D’Andrea, a victim legal advocate for the Atlantic County Women’s Center.
D’Andrea said that although overall offenses seemed to go down slightly, it doesn’t necessarily mean domestic violence has decreased.
“It just means that the number of reported domestic (offenses) is going down,” she said. “We still have to be diligent in our work in educating individuals about domestic violence and the potential risk, homicide being what we don’t want to see.”
Of the 49 homicides in 2015, 36 resulted in arrests. Atlantic County accounted for two of the domestic-violence homicides in 2015. Cumberland County had three and Ocean County had one. Cape May County had no domestic-violence homicides that year.
Statewide, there were 61,659 domestic-violence offenses reported in 2015.
Atlantic County had 4,671 total domestic violence offenses, a five percent decrease from 2014. In Atlantic City, which has the county’s highest occurrence of domestic violence, saw a drop in offenses from 1,012 to 834. Egg Harbor Township also saw a drop from 700 to 664.
Cape May County had an 11 percent increase in total domestic-violence offenses to 1,293. Middle Township saw a huge jump in offenses, from 297 to 390. North Wildwood also saw a significant increase, from 13 to 43.
Cumberland County had a 15 percent decrease to 2,589, and Ocean County had a 10 percent increase to 4,340.
Statewide, the most common offense related to domestic violence in 2015 was assault at 26,413 incidents, followed by harassment at 26,338 incidents.
Females are, at 74 percent, overwhelmingly the victims of domestic-violence cases.
The NJCEDV said there may be much more to the story, as the report does not include lives lost in murder-suicides, child fatalities and the death of bystanders or first responders.
“Nor does the (Uniform Crime Report) take into account the suicides committed by victims or perpetrators as a result of domestic violence. When we consider all of these deaths, we know the number of individuals, families and communities impacted by domestic-violence fatalities in New Jersey is much greater,” the NJCEDV wrote in reaction to the latest statistics.