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What Zimmerman Tells Us About Domestic Abuse

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Just last month, researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine discovered that a simple, 4-minute survey could accurately detect 78 percent of women who had been victims of domestic violence in the previous year.

A lengthy New Yorker profile in July examined a pilot program in Massachusetts that uses 20 risk factors for a victim of domestic violence that would likely lead to a homicide: A score of 18 or more means that victim is at extreme risk of being killed by her partner.

The evidence also piles up anecdotally. When Vikings superstar Adrian Peterson's 2-year-old son was beaten to death, allegedly by a man in a relationship with the child's mother, it was revealed that 27-year-old Joseph Patterson had a previous conviction for domestic violence and had violated a domestic violence abuse bond last year.

When Kansas City Chiefs lineman Jovan Belcher shot his 22-year-old girlfriend Kasandra Perkins before taking his own life, reporters discovered the team was so aware of problems that they paid for "counseling" for the couple.

When actor Charlie Sheen had his very public meltdown (and subsequent rehabilitation) in 2011, Anna Holmes compiled a lengthy list of previous incidents of abuse against women in his life.

Reports also surfaced that singer Chris Brown's "temper has manifested itself in violent ways in the past" before the infamous incident with his on-again-off-again girlfriend Rihanna just before the 2009 Grammys.

All the evidence points to the fact that abuse is a pattern that can indicate future behavior. It's time to start treating it that way.

This post has been updated. It originally said charges were filed against Zimmerman in a pervious domestic abuse case, but no charges were ever filed.

About The Author


Kay Steiger is an associate editor at Talking Points Memo. She formerly worked at Raw Story, Washingtonian magazine, the Center for American Progress and The American Prospect. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, the Guardian, Jezebel, AlterNet and others. She graduated from the University of Minnesota. Contact her at kay@talkingpointsmemo.com.