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Thinking forward, Dallas launches domestic violence dashboard

On Tuesday, a man killed his estranged wife and then himself at the Dallas County medical examiner’s office. Sadly, this kind of tragedy is too common. There have been at least 12 intimate partner killings this year in Dallas. Last year, there were 15.

Domestic violence persists throughout Dallas, usually behind closed doors. It’s a societal scourge that can stay hidden because victims often suffer in private. But thanks to Dallas City Hall and victim advocates, policymakers and others can now easily see just how prevalent family violence is across the city through an online dashboard that was launched this year.

Data from Dallas police is updated daily on the dashboard. Different filters can isolate data based on council district, policing division or ZIP code, while other dashboard features break down statistics by gender, race and age.

So far into 2022, police have recorded more than 13,000 family violence crimes, including 1,690 aggravated assaults. In those cases, the abuser used a weapon or severely injured the victim — for example, breaking bones or causing him or her to pass out.

Almost 60% of victims are people in their 20s and 30s. A majority are female, and more than half of them are Black. That is consistent with national government statistics that show Black women experience higher rates of intimate partner violence than women in other demographic groups.

Still, the dashboard also defies assumptions that family violence victims are almost always women or girls. According to Dallas data, 27% of the city’s victims are male.

Jennifer Staubach Gates, chair of Dallas’ Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Advisory Council and a former City Council member, said the dashboard can show council members where they should concentrate outreach services in their districts.

“What we were highlighting in the dashboard is information that can be used as policy,” Gates told us.

The dashboard shows the areas most impacted by domestic violence are southern council districts, but every part of Dallas is affected.

This online tool also documents prosecution and shelter statistics. Genesis Women’s Shelter and The Family Place, two of the largest domestic abuse shelters in Dallas, help compile the data with Dallas police and the Dallas County district attorney’s office.

“Our elected officials need to realize how dangerous this is and then hopefully, stand up for stronger laws against intimate partner violence,” said Jan Langbein, executive director of Genesis.

The city’s commitment to sharing this data is forward-thinking and can lead to meaningful responses. Advocates have noted that policing alone will not stop domestic violence; communities also need education and outreach.

In addition, the data will help shelters raise the money they need to rescue families from abusers.

The Family Place CEO Mimi Sterling told us that the dashboard helps the nonprofit “share with the community the importance of providing lifesaving emergency shelter and the continued need for services for survivors of domestic violence.”

We know that the dashboard won’t stop domestic violence from happening. But it keeps attention on this problem and signals to abusers that Dallas is watching.

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