This is in response to the article, “The Deadliest Shootings In 2016 You Didn’t Hear About” by the Huffington Post.
Often times when we hear about someone staying in a violent relationship, our reaction is to victim blame. It is hard for those who have always been in a healthy relationship to understand why someone would stay when their partner is emotionally and/or physically abusive. It is easy to look inward onto our own situation and criticize those who live outside of our norm.
Therefore, it may be surprising to know that of the 16 deadliest mass shootings in 2016, 7 came from the hands of an abuser. Since domestic violence is about power and control, if the offender feels like they are losing that control in anyway it is very likely that the violence will intensify. In the past five years, 57% of mass shootings (where four or more people were killed, not including the shooter) were cited as being committed by an intimate partner. Not surprisingly, women and children made up for the majority of the victims.
Many of these incidences came after the woman had decided to leave their partner. Some had even told their friends and co-workers that if anything happened to them it was their partner who was to blame. These women had the courage to try to leave for the safety of their children and themselves. It is important to read about these cases and to study the patterns. Many had filed for restraining orders or had pressed charges against their partners, but their complaints had fallen on deaf ears. They felt alone, isolated, and scared.
In order to decrease the number of mass shootings, we must start by believing survivors and helping them get connected to resources. It is not only advantageous to have the support of friends and family, but also a safe house and trained advocates. Advocacy centers and shelters are designed to help people leave violent relationships and can often offer both economic and emotional support.
In the end, we can stop domestic violence from turning into a mass shooting but providing victims with unwavering support. It is never easy to leave a relationship, it is even harder when your partner has controlled you, abused you, harassed you, threatened you, and used love as a form of power. Empathy and understanding are the catalysts for change and we all have the power to exhibit these qualities to those in need.
There is hope for those wanting to leave a violent partner. You are not alone. You are believed. And we will keep fighting to bring an end to violence against women and children.