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Study highlights the dangers abusive relationships pose to teens

Nearly half of the women killed by homicide in Arizona and around the country die at the hands of an individual with whom they had an intimate relationship. Yet, the dangers violent men pose to adolescent girls have largely been ignored by researchers. A team of epidemiologists from Harvard University and the University of Washington recently sought to address this imbalance by reviewing the cases of 150 teens killed by their intimate partners between 2003 and 2016.

Out of the cases that were studied, 90% involved an adolescent girl who died at the hands of a boyfriend, and the perpetrator was over the age of 18 almost 80 percent of the time. In some of these cases, an older man killed a teenage girlfriend because he was worried about being prosecuted for statutory rape or wished to terminate a pregnancy. The researchers gathered their data from coroner's records, police reports and medical examiner's files.

The most common motives for these killings were jealousy, rejection or a recent breakup. The data suggests that men tend to commit these crimes while enraged, and a handgun is often their weapon of choice. The researchers discovered that a gun of some kind was used to commit 61% of the murders studied, which led them to conclude that many of the teen victims would still be alive if firearms were more tightly controlled. The study was published in the April 2019 edition of the scientific journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Attorneys with experience in domestic violence cases could help women threatened by abusive partners by filing for protective orders on their behalf. Lawyers could also put domestic violence victims into contact with organizations and community resources that offer support to individuals seeking to escape abusive relationships.

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