By Globe Staff,Updated January 16, 2024, 1:58 p.m.
The deaths of a Dover mother and daughter may be among the most recent instances of domestic violence homicide in Massachusetts, but it’s a distressingly common phenomenon, with 19 people killed in the state last year at the hands of an intimate partner.
Teena Kamal, 54, and Arianna Kamal, 18, were found dead in their Dover home on Dec. 28. Investigators later said they had been shot and killed by Rakesh Kamal, 57, their husband and father, respectively, who then allegedly shot and killed himself.
The mother and daughter were among the 19 domestic violence homicide victims in Massachusetts last year, according to Jane Doe, Inc., a Massachusetts organization working to end domestic violence and support survivors. The organization’s data, which is still being finalized for 2023, showed that among the 19 victims, 17 were female, and the homicides occurred in nearly every corner of the state.
Data from the organization show that Massachusetts has averaged about 18 domestic violence homicides per year in the last decade.
Domestic violence, of course, is not limited to homicide, and its prevalence is often difficult to measure. Survivors may face stigma, and rates of reporting to authorities are low.
“The vast majority of survivors don’t report the harm that they experience for a number of reasons,” said Hema Sarang-Sieminski, the deputy director of Jane Doe, Inc.
A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly half of women in the United States have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Among those, three quarters of female victims reported that they were first victimized before the age of 25. One in three women in the US have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
Massachusetts has among the lowest percentages of women reporting domestic violence in the nation, but about 36 percent of women have been victims, the survey found. Nevada, Arkansas, and Idaho had the highest percentages at 62 percent, 59 percent, 58 percent respectively, according to the survey, which was conducted from 2016 to 2017 and included more than 15,000 women and 12,000 men.
There are limitations to the data: The survey was conducted in English and Spanish and did not reach institutionalized or homeless adults. In addition, the data relies on participants identifying themselves as victims of intimate partner violence, which participants may have been reluctant to do for reasons including stigma or being in close proximity to the perpetrator during the interview.
The National Domestic Violence hot line (800-799-7233) and the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence hot line (877-785-2020) are available to connect people with services, including legal assistance, medical care, and counseling. A separate crisis hot line can be reached by dialing 988.