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The Connection between Mass Killings and Domestic Violence

On June 15th, the New York Times featured an interesting article on the connection between mass killings and domestic violence, specifically addressing the severe tragedy that Florida recently experienced in June when a gunman massacred many innocent individuals at a nightclub in Orlando. As discussed in the article, the gunman had a history of domestic violence, but he wasn’t the only one.

In looking back at various mass killings that occurred in the United States, you see, in many instances, a history of abuse by these same perpetrators against their girlfriends, wives, and ex-wives. In fact, the pattern is so strong that FBI data on mass shootings between 2009 and 2015 indicates that almost 60 percent of mass shooting cases included a spouse, former spouse, or other family member, and close to 20 percent of attackers had previously been charged with domestic violence. The pattern is beyond horrifying, and a strong warning sign that if you are with someone who you do not feel safe with, protecting yourself and separating from that person could be a matter of life or death.

Intimate Terrorism”

Experts on domestic violence use a term known as “intimate terrorism” to describe the phenomenon of an abuser who seeks to control every aspect of someone else’s life. Regardless of what they are trying to control—finances, social activity, work, etc.—violence is the chosen means of control.

The Times article draws connections between this coercive violence and how certain religions, in some instances, treat women, where some argue that there is overlap with certain views of “traditional” gender roles and the importance of men having control over women—promises that these traditional gender roles will be restored through the threat of violence as a way of keeping women in control. In that way, terrorism and mass shootings might appeal to individuals who long for control and have a history of domestic violence in their lives.

Another common characteristic described by those who study the psychology of terrorism and mass violence is a sense of grievance; a belief that the perpetrator has been wronged by someone, somewhere, and this “wrong” merits violence in response. Some have also pointed out that having a history of violence—such as committing domestic violence—arguably makes it easier to commit another, additional type of violence, such as a mass shooting.

Although mass shootings and terrorist attacks—when they take place—scare us and often receive news headlines, domestic violence episodes typically do not, even though domestic violence actually leads to more deaths in the United States each year. In fact, according to some years, it kills close to 10 times the number of victims as mass shootings.

Compassionate Family Law Legal Representation

If you live in Fort Lauderdale or any of the surrounding areas and are in need of legal assistance on a family law-related issue, contact the law office of Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale to schedule a consultation. We will help find solutions to protect you and your family, and place your safety and the safety of your loved ones as a priority.

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