Domestic violence affects us all. Whether you are a survivor, a relative, a friend, a co-worker, or a neighbor, domestic violence touches your life.

It may not be present in your home, but it is present in your neighborhood, your schools, and businesses in your city. Maybe you agree that it’s a horrible problem, but you do not give it much more thought.
In researching this topic, I have found that more often than not, domestic violence was present in the homes of people who later committed mass shootings. As Rebecca Traister has written for New York magazine, “What perpetrators of terrorist attacks turn out to often have in common, more than any particular religion or ideology, are histories of domestic violence.” Here are a few from 2017 that have domestic violence connections:
•January 6, 2017- Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport- Esteban Santiago opened fire on unsuspecting travelers. In 2016, Mr. Santiago was involved in several domestic violence instances. Two of these reports involved him strangling an intimate partner.
•February 21, 2017- Lauderdale County, Mississippi- Karon McVay shot and killed his girlfriend, her mother, her sister, and her 5 year old son.
•March 22, 2017- Wausau, Wisconsin- Nengmy Vang shot and killed 4 people. His wife’s 2 coworkers, her divorce attorney, and a police detective. This was not the first time that he had threatened his estranged wife with violence.
•April 7, 2017- Houston, TX- Dekitta Holmes shot and killed her sister, her intimate partner, her mother, her mother’s boyfriend, and then herself.
•May 28, 2017- Lincoln County, Mississippi- Willie Cory Godbolt shot and killed eight people including a sheriff’s deputy. In 2016, his wife left him and filed a PFA after he had physically attacked her and strangled her.
•September 10, 2017- Plano, TX- Spencer Hight shot and killed his estranged wife and six other people at her home. Mr. Hight had been accused of being physically abusive in the past.
•November 5, 2017- Sutherland Springs, TX- Devin Patrick Kelley shot and killed 26 people in the First Baptist Church where his wife’s family attended church. He had previously been convicted of domestic violence and strangulation.
We cannot say that every person who commits domestic violence will go on to commit a mass shooting. We need to start having open and honest conversations with our friends and family members and talk to law makers about requiring reform programs for perpetrators of domestic violence. If we stop the domestic violence maybe there will be fewer instances of mass shootings. Hopefully, the more perpetrators who participate in these reform programs mean the more people learning to handle their problems without resorting to violence.
According to Valentina Zarya’s article for Fortune, “While it often seems like there’s no rhyme or reason to mass shootings, there is at least one commonality among many of the perpetrators: a history of violence against the women in their lives.” She listed the following statistics to support this argument:
1. The majority of mass shooters in the U.S. killed their intimate partners or family members.
2. About 4.5 million American women report that they have had an intimate partner threaten them with a gun.
3. Nearly half of American women who are murdered are killed by their intimate partners.
4. Homicide is the fifth leading cause of death for women between 18 and 44.
5. American women are 16 times more likely to be killed by a gun than women in other developed nations.
We have to learn these warning signs and seek help if you or someone you know is being abused. Some of the warning signs include jealousy, possessiveness, controlling, loses temper quickly, sexually demanding, always blames others, isolates from family and friends, makes all decisions, embarrasses partner in front of others, physically violent, makes partner cry, uses fear, always checking up on partner, takes away money or belongings, threatens to leave, teases, bullies, or uses derogatory statements to manipulate. Know these warning signs and be aware of your relationship and your family and friend’s relationships. Talk about ways to reach out and get help if you see any of these warning signs. Help is available at HELPline (256)716-1000, our website www.csna.org, or locally at (256)574-5826.

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