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Iowa sees highest level of domestic violence fatalities in a decade

Sydney Sims
Iowa recorded its highest number of domestic-violence-related deaths in a decade. According to officials, it coincides with decreased service funding and COVID-19 strains.

Twenty people died last year due to domestic violence, which is the highest number of domestic-violence related deaths in the state in a decade, according to the state Attorney General's office. Fourteen were women, and two were men. Two bystanders were killed.

In a news release, the director of the Crime Victim Assistance Division (CVAD) Sandi Tibbetts Murphy said seven of those deaths occurred in the last four months of the year.

As of 2022, three women have been killed in cases of domestic violence. According to Tibbetts Murphy, those high levels coincide with decreases in federal funding for victim services as well as strains on service organizations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our ability to serve victims has continued to be limited by funding cuts and the ongoing pandemic,” she said in a press release. “We must do all we can to ensure that Iowans are able to reach available services to address not only domestic violence, but other crime victim needs.”

Although Congress sustained funding for the Victims of Crime Act last year with the VOCA Fix Act, officials said its results won’t be seen in Iowa for several years.

In 2021, CVAD received $12.76 million in funding from the Crime Victims Fund to be used this year. But that is a 20 percent decrease from last fiscal year. CVAD estimated the drop in funding may affect thousands of victims and survivors in Iowa and its surrounding states.

If you or a loved one are in need of domestic violence victims services or support:

  • Call the Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline at 800-770-1650
  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE OR text “START” to 88788
  • Call the Love is Respect Teen Dating Violence Hotline at 866-331-9474 OR text “LOVEIS” to 22522
Kassidy was a reporter based in Des Moines