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Domestic violence rates fell sharply between 1993 and 2004, the Justice Department said Thursday, noting that American Indian women and native Alaskan women are far more likely to be victimized than whites and other minorities.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics said that ''intimate partner-violence'' rates, including violence between same-sex partners, fell by more than 50%. The decline mirrored a decadelong trend in other violent crimes, and the department did not suggest a cause.
''There's still generally no consensus about why any crime in general has dropped,'' said Shannan Catalano, the study's author. ''It's safe to say it's more than one factor that went into it.''
Some experts attribute the decline to better training for police and more funding for prosecution, two key elements of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. Investigators increasingly are better trained to handle abuse cases and bring them to court. ''For the first time there are entire domestic violence units in law enforcement,'' said Lonna Stevens, director of the Sheila Wellstone Institute, a Minnesota-based domestic violence organization. ''We've had protocols and policies developed for responding to this.''
In 1993 there were about 5.8 incidents of nonfatal violence for every 1,000 U.S. residents above the age of 12. By 2004, that number had fallen to 2.6, the agency said. Homicides fell by about 30%, from 2,269 in 1993 to 1,544, in 2004.
The Justice Department defines intimate partner violence as violence by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, or a same-sex partner. (AP)