As speculation continues to swirl around the investigation into the stabbing death of 21-year-old Tomasz Matczak, one thing remains clear — domestic violence is a serious issue that affects people of all walks of life.
“Domestic violence crosses all lines,” said Executive Director of the Eastside Domestic Violence Program, Barbara Langdon, who said she could not talk about the Matczak case or any other cases specifically for confidentiality reasons. “It’s not (confined to) any particular ethnic or economic group.”
On Aug. 1, Matczak’s 19-year-old girlfriend drove him to the emergency room in Issaquah, where medical staff tried to treat him for a stab wound to the chest. He died en route to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and his girlfriend was arrested later that night for investigation of second degree murder. She was released from jail because charges were not filed within the 72-hour time limit. Police and prosecutors are continuing their investigation.
Nationally, one in four women have been a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime.
Violence can often escalate, leading to serious injuries and even death.
According to the Washington State Fatality Review released in 2007, from January 1997 to June 2006, at least 359 people were killed by domestic violence abusers in Washington State.
Although homicide investigations are rare in Issaquah – Matzcak’s fatal stabbing was the first in five years in Issaquah – domestic violence is not.
Last year, EDVP workers and volunteers answered 480 calls from Issaquah women on its crisis hotline. They sheltered 15 women and children and served 533 women and children.
From July 1 to Aug. 12 of this year, Issaquah police responded to 21 domestic dispute calls and nine calls of domestic violence assaults. Those calls resulted in 11 arrests, all under the category of domestic violence assaults, where more than one person can be arrested in each case. There were no arrests in the domestic dispute calls — in most cases, officers just separate the parties.
Washington State laws mandate that if there is a mark, be it a cut, bruise or red mark, then there must be an arrest, police officials said.
Police have said they responded several times to domestic dispute calls at the apartment where Matczak and his girlfriend lived although no arrests were made.
The couple has a history of domestic violence calls in Renton and other cities as well. Matczak had a violation of a no-contact order on his record and both he and his girlfriend had requested no-contact orders on each other throughout the course of their relationship.
According Langdon, injuries to both parties occur when the victim fights back.
“What we see frequently is injuries happen when women fight back,” Langdon said.
Although the vast majority of abusers are male, 15 percent are female, Langdon said. Those statistics include male-female relationships and female-female, she added.
According to court records, Matczak’s girlfriend on more than one occasion refused to cooperate with police or answer questions about an alleged assault. This is very common in abuse victims, Langdon said. Fear of retaliation is one reason.
“There’s also the fact that they really love each other,” Langdon said. “People get together out of love and the violence escalates after. There’s hope that it will become healthy again.”
The EDVP does offer help for those in a violent relationship. Their hotline is open 24 hours and answers 8,000-10,000 calls per year. The hotline provides counseling and is also a gateway to other services, including emergency housing and traditional housing.
“We can help before it escalates, before it hits the level it did in this case,” Langdon said.
The EDVP crisis hotline number is (425) 746-1940 or 1-800-827-8840.