The Aurora, IL shooter this past week had previously spent time in jail for beating his girlfriend with a bat. The media seems to focus on how this should have kept him from being able to own a gun, but the real focus should be on the fact that intimate partner violence/violence against women is intolerable. It should also get us to think about how IPV/VAW may be a sign of future violence more broadly. IPV/VAW can also sometimes be the “motivator” for a mass shooting (as in the case of the Parkland shootings). Some data suggests that half of all mass shootings involve a man killing his partner/girlfriend/wife (and sometimes also her family, children, friends, co-workers).
But that isn’t the only reason why we should be concerned - we should be concerned because women are people and do not deserve to be hit/beaten/killed - not even by their partners (I say “not even” bc I feel like our culture still - at some level - sees women as men’s property).
I have been thinking about this today because of my closest friend. I have talked about her here previously. She was married to a man for like 5 years. He was a total jerk to her - but she didn’t really see that. He was also a trump supporter who felt victimized by pretty much everything in the world (made worse by the fact that he is a man in a female dominated field). He hit her once maybe 2 years ago - they went to couples counseling, and I think it stopped. But then she planned to move to my city once she graduated - and he didn’t want to come along. As she prepared to move, she learned he was having an affair. This erupted into a few incidents of violence - one of which was very very scary. I urged her to leave - and she didn’t. She had a place she could have gone - but she thought she was mostly safe - plus she had to pack to move. Everything turned out mostly okay - she left, they divorced, and now she is here working in her dream job.
But last week she reached out to the woman with whom he had been having an affair and learned some pretty chilling things about him, how he treated this other woman, how long he has likely been cheating on my friend - and germane to me - that he has been spreading rumors that my friend and I were having an affair (I’m queer, she is not - and I am not interested in her in that way). He has also been massively pursuing this other woman - and she has reached out to victims’ services for advice and help. I have been encouraging my friend to do the same.
The fact that I have been spun into his rageful jealous fantasies makes me nervous. I don’t know him well enough to know how violent he could get as my friend and this other woman cut off contact with him. We live in a completely different state, which is also good. But he is a man with guns and now a history of IPV. I have been thinking today of calling a hotline just to get some information to calm myself since my friend seems reluctant to do so.
This makes me think of what I have been arguing for years as the “ripple effects of IPV.” IPV doesn’t just affect the woman and her partner - it can affect kids, parents, siblings, extended families, workplaces, schools, neighbors, etc. I did not choose to be in a relationship with this asshole - and yet somehow I am embroiled in his drama. If I still lived in our previous city, I would actually be very concerned for my safety right now. He has apparently been jealous of me for years - which is just so not healthy, it’s not even funny.
I commented recently that these school shootings are creating a generation of highly traumatized kids - not just the kids who survive the school shootings, but all the kids who fear for their lives when they go to school, all the kids who have to do the drills - basically, all the kids. We don’t think about all the unintended (or intended in the case of perpetrators who love to sow fear) victims of violence - and how violence affects large swaths of our populace.
I think about this in relation to gun violence in Chicago - the ripple effects of that violence on kids, families, neighborhoods - a whole large population of the city. It’s not just the bullet holes that hurt people - it’s the far, the loss, the feeling that one has no future because it will likely be taken away by violence.
I guess the title of this is too limited - violence is a national emergency - violence against women, intimate partner violence, violence against LGBTQ people, mass shootings, gun violence in cities - it’s all an emergency.