The Super Bowl and Domestic Violence: Nearly 700 Killed in Chicago Between 1995 and 2010

Por en Chicago 02/3/13 3:05pm
Fans arrive outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome several hours before the start of Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, 03 February 2013. EFE/EPA/ERIC S. LESSER

It’s been 20 years since the claim first surfaced that Super Bowl Sunday is the high-water mark of domestic violence.

On that day, a series of public service announcements issued the claim that many others accepted and repeated.

Washington Post reporter Ken Ringle, however, did not.

He dug into the study on which the assertion was based and learned that the groups doing the public service announcement had misreported the author’s findings.

Several studies since then similarly have not identified a causal connection between the nation’s most-watched sporting event and a rise in domestic violence.

The cultural conversation has gone back and forth between conservatives who decry feminists’ peddling what they call an “urban legend” or progressives’ critiquing what they see as belittling and trivializing of a national epidemic.

We’ll let both sides wage that struggle.

One thing we can say for certain is that domestic violence often turns deadly.

Don’t believe us?

We looked at data from the Chicago Police Department’s annual and other reports from 1995 to 2010.

In all, a total of 697 people were killed in domestic murders between those years.

That’s an average of 44 people per year, or close to one per week.

The victims of course are not just numbers.

They are mothers and aunts and sons and husbands.

It’s also important to note that physical abuse does not need to occur for domestic violence to have happened.

David Schilling of Healthcare Alternative Systems, a non-profit organization in Chicago that provides many various types of counseling to domestic violence offenders and victims, made that point repeatedly in a session for perpetrators that Greg Pratt and I attended last week.

At base, he said, domestic violence is about power and control.

Intimidation, verbal abuse, threats and trying to limit a partner’s actions are all part of that.

It is important to note that the overall trend in domestic murders has been downward.

From a high of 70 people killed in 1996, the number dropped all the way to 21 in 2006.

In 2010, the most recent year in which an annual report was published, the total was 30.

Domestic Murders in Chicago, 1995 to 2010

U.S. News & World Report Rachel Pomerance used the opportunity of the Super Bowl and accompanying conversation about domestic violence to talk about warning signs of domestic abuse and actions people can take to protect their loved ones and family members.

The numbers may not show a conclusive increase of domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday, but the number of victims in the city over a 16-year period demands our consistent attention on this issue.

We intend to do just that.