Domestic Violence Role in Mass Shootings Overlooked

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Nearly half the number of women killed in homicides each year are fatally shot by their intimate partners. As many as ten percent more women are shot and killed by other family members. By comparison, intimate partners or other family members account for only 2 percent of men killed by guns. Domestic violence advocates say that in the #MeToo era, when thousands of women have raised their voices to tell stories of abuse and harassment in workplaces, those being abused behind closed doors still face a culture that makes it difficult to speak up, the Christian Science Monitor reports. If a partner has a gun, there is a 500 percent greater likelihood that a woman can be shot and killed, says a study in the American Journal of Public Health. When it comes to mass shootings, the news media and others focus on motives of terror, mental illness, or random nihilism.

In fact, domestic violence accounts for about half of the number of people killed each year in mass shootings, the vast majority of them women. Between 2006 and 2017, domestic abusers accounted for 597 mass shooting deaths, compared to 517 deaths in public places like schools in Newtown, Ct., and Parkland, Fl. Domestic-violence experts say the lack of attention to the motives of domestic mass shooters reflects cultural values that surround gun violence in intimate settings. “Because domestic violence is so insidious and based on a pattern of power and control…you’re not going to know …right off the bat” that a mass shooting incident was an act of domestic violence, says Ruth Glenn of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Experts say the scant attention paid to these types of mass shootings, and the millions more women who are threatened with guns, reflects the public’s lack of education on domestic violence and the pervasiveness of victim blaming.

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