E’dena Hines, actress and step-granddaughter of actor Morgan Freeman, died at the hands of her boyfriend this past weekend. While little information has been released on the nature of the brutal attack, sources report that Hines’ live-in boyfriend stabbed her to death in front of their home at 3 A.M. Sunday morning, shouting religious statements as if he were attempting an exorcism.
Hines was very close with her grandfather, often accompanying him to public events and award shows. Their closeness even at one point spurred an unfounded defamatory rumor of romantic involvement. Our sympathies lie with her family at this difficult time, and with the families of all those who have lost their lives to Intimate Partner Violence. While this is a rare high-profile case due to Hines’ close relationship with Freeman, Hines is one of over 2,300 Americans who die of Intimate Partner Violence each year. Medical Professionals can help to decrease this number and prevent further tragedies like this one.
Nearly one half of all murdered women are killed by an intimate partner. While it is unknown at this point whether there is any history of domestic violence between Hines and her boyfriend, around 42% of victims of murder by an intimate partner are seen by medical professionals in the year prior to their murder, many while abuse is actively occurring. Of those, around 80% had previously sought help for injuries sustained from intimate partner violence. Recognizing these signs as medical professionals can help to save the lives of many.
It is also crucial to make questions about domestic violence a regular part of patient screening. According to our resource, Violence Against Women, directly questioning patients about domestic violence significantly increases reporting, from the typical 0.4% to 14.2%. Marital Counselors have an important role to play here, as an intimate partner violence occurs in around 60% of couples in counseling but is reported without prompting in only around 6%. Only around 4% of marital counselors report consistently asking about domestic violence, therefore over half of the couples in marital counseling are likely experiencing some unreported domestic violence. Studies also show that welfare caseworkers are required to screen for domestic violence, but rarely do. Intimate Partner Violence screening is under-utilized across the board, and changing that could save countless lives.
Using Danger Assessments can also help medical professionals to determine if a patient is at risk for fatal domestic violence. While the assessment is not flawless, many people could be saved by utilizing this tool.
As medical professionals, we can help save countless lives and prevent tragedies like the loss of E’dena Hines by making simple changes to our routines and utilizing all domestic violence information available to us.