“The slaying resulted from a domestic dispute,” reads the final sentence in a short news item in Northwest Georgia News about a South Carolina man who killed his wife Vanessa Ruth Hilton, and then fled to Georgia.
A “domestic dispute,” sounds like another tired disagreement about dishes or errands or walking the dog. A disagreement between partners, a disagreement among equals. A “domestic dispute” obscures the reality of the type of violence this is: intimate partner violence, often called domestic violence or family violence. This is a type of violence — physical, emotional, financial or sexual violence — used to exert power and control over a partner.
It’s important to name because one in four women will experience IPV (intimate partner violence) in her lifetime, and last year, Georgia recorded the highest number of domestic violence deaths in a decade in the state. IPV impacts women across race, ethnicity, citizenship status, ability, socioeconomic status and religion. In other words, it affects people from all walks of life.
In families with children, they are often primary or secondary victims of IPV. At least 12,000 children in Georgia are exposed to IPV annually in this state, which has long-term consequences on their physical, mental and emotional health. Often, children witness their parent killed or find their parent’s body after a DV (domestic violence) homicide occurs, according to the annual fatality review done by the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Having a gun in the house — regardless of who owns it — increases the risk of homicide during a domestic violence incident by at least 500 percent.
Murder, often tied to IPV, is also the second most common cause of death for pregnant people, and is a more common cause of death than common medical conditions — like preeclampsia or pregnancy-related bleeding.
Vanessa Ruth Hilton was found beaten to death in her home. Beaten to death. This was no “domestic dispute”–Hilton was just one of thousands of women this year who will die as a result of escalating intimate partner violence in this country, and one of hundreds in Georgia that will face the same fate.
If you or someone you know is a victim or survivor of intimate partner violence, you can call the 24 hour state-wide hotline 1-800.334.2836 (se habla español).