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Overview of the Washington State Domestic Violence Fatality Review

What is a fatality review?

A fatality review brings together experts and representatives of various parts of the coordinated community response to domestic violence: law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, community corrections officers, court and community based advocates, health care professionals, batterer’s intervention program providers, child protective services and other social service agencies. This multi-disciplinary group takes a detailed look at the public records regarding domestic violence related homicides in order to identify gaps in the community response to domestic violence and barriers to effective interventions.

Why a domestic violence fatality review?

Domestic violence takes a significant toll in human lives each year. Domestic violence related homicides account for about 1 in 5 murders in Washington state each year. On average, over 40% of female murder victims in Washington are killed by a current or former intimate partner. From 1997 through 2011, 568 people were killed by domestic violence abusers in Washington state. These included domestic violence victims, their children, friends, family members, new partners, and intervening law enforcement officers. Nearly one in three abusers who killed someone else also killed themselves. Learning more about when abusers become homicidal and identifying the points at which interventions could be more effective can improve the community response to domestic violence and potentially save lives.

What is the purpose of the Domestic Violence Fatality Review?

The Domestic Violence Fatality Review seeks to:

  • Increase safety and self-determination for victims and accountability for perpetrators of domestic violence;
  • Foster communication and collaboration;
  • Identify patterns in domestic violence fatalities;
  • Generate information useful to policy makers, practitioners, advocates and educators.


The domestic violence fatality review process uses public records and
records obtained through research agreements with various agencies.
The project does not ask panel members to reveal information which
it would be illegal or unethical for them to reveal. Each participant
signs a confidentiality agreement, agreeing not to discuss the
proceedings of the review outside that meeting. Confidentiality of the
proceedings of the review is protected under Title 43 of the Revised
Code of Washington.

Project Background

Domestic Violence Fatality Review panels have been convened in
fifteen Washington counties: Benton/ Franklin/Walla Walla,
Chelan/Douglas/Okanogan, Clark, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish,
Spokane, Thurston, and Yakima/Kittitas.