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Krassimira Pejcinovski's murder shows that domestic violence is a predictable pandemic

Krassimira Pejcinovski, 39, was murdered by her boyfriend and her body found by Ajax police on Wednesday morning. Pejcinovski’s 15-year old son, Roy and 13-year old daughter, Venallia were murdered by the same man. These unnecessary deaths sadden but, unfortunately, do not shock me.

Between 2003 and 2016, the Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC) reviewed 289 cases, involving 410 deaths. A total of 65 per cent of the cases reviewed were homicides and the remaining 35 per cent were homicide-suicides.

Approximately 73 per cent of all cases involved couples with a history of domestic violence while in 67 per cent of the cases there was an actual or pending separation.

In addition to a history of violence and a pending or actual separation, the DVDRC identified several important risk factors that everyone can identify:

  • a perpetrator who was depressed (50 per cent)
  • obsessive behaviour by the perpetrator (47 per cent)
  • prior threats or attempts to commit suicide (46 per cent)
  • a victim who had an intuitive sense of fear towards the perpetrator (43 per cent)
  • perpetrator displayed sexual jealousy (42 per cent)
  • prior threats to kill the victim (39 per cent)
  • excessive alcohol and/or drug use (39 per cent)
  • a perpetrator who was unemployed (39 per cent)
  • history of violence outside the family (35 per cent)
  • an escalation of violence (34 per cent)

In 71 per cent of the cases reviewed, seven or more risk factors were identified. The signs are there. Friends, family, bosses, co-workers, acquaintances, physicians, lawyers, child care workers, in other words, all of us need to look for the telltale signs that a woman’s life is in danger.

It is important to understand that each woman in the abusive relationship needs to decide when it is "safe" to leave. That’s because her chances of being murdered increase nine-fold once she decides or tries to leave. Women living with intimate partner violence are all too familiar with this fact.

Ideally, there would be a safety plan in place so that when the time is right it's somewhat safer to leave and not return.

In 2016, the DVDRC reviewed 22 cases which included 11 homicides and 11 homicide-suicides. There was a total of 36 deaths that can be broken down to 26 homicide victims and 10 perpetrator suicides. Of the murder victims two were children, 22 were adult females, and two were adult males. All 10 suicide victims were perpetrators. Of the 22 cases reviewed, 21 (95 per cent) involved male perpetrators and one (5 per cent) involved a female perpetrator.

Here are a few more statistics that the public needs to familiarize themselves with:

  • victims ranged in age from eight to 83 years
  • average age for victims was 37.8 years
  • perpetrators ranged in age from 19 to 78 years
  • average age for perpetrators was 43.5 years
  • average number of risk factors identified in the cases reviewed was 10.5
  • number of risk factors ranged from two to 23
  • seven or more risk factors were identified in 15 (68 per cent) of the cases reviewed in 2016

Unfortunately, Krassimira Pejcinovski’s murder fits the typical profile. In 2009, her murderer was found guilty of assaulting a police officer and sentenced to 12 months' probation. Pejcinovski’s employer said she was worried about her friend and has been quoted saying she found the boyfriend controlling and worried that he had harmed the mother of three.

This tragedy is played out across Canada on a regular basis. Every six days a woman is murdered by a current or former partner. It’s a statistic that hasn’t changed in what seems like forever.

But, in cases of intimate partner violence what is particularly disturbing and distasteful is the way the media chooses to frame these well-planned murders. In addition to sensationalizing the murder while downplaying the fact that it involved an intimate partner, the woman who has been slain is often lost in the reporting. She becomes a nonentity. The death of Krassimira Pejcinovski is no different.

After reading Alexandra Jones’ story about Krassimira Pejcinovski’s murder, written for the Toronto Star and Hamilton Spectator, I was speechless. How dare a reporter include the incredibly insensitive comment of Roy Pejcinovski’s unthinking hockey coach, "If it happened in the summer it would still be a tragedy, but the fact that the team is in the high part of the season, it’s very difficult."

I’m sure if Krassimira Pejcinovski had known that her murder, and that of two of her children, would have inconvenienced her son’s hockey team she would have postponed it to a more convenient time like say, the summer. Women who are being abused are always accommodating someone. And I don’t say that tongue in cheek.

Time for the public and press to realize that domestic violence is a predictable, and in many cases a preventable, pandemic, and it’s got to end.

Image: Flickr/textexin

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