Guns and Domestic Violence

Originally posted at Ms.Blog,

The impact of gun violence on victims and survivors of domestic violence cannot be overstated. The statistics are chilling: Approximately 2 out of every 3 domestic violence homicides are committed with firearms; the presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation increases the likelihood of homicide by at least 500 percent. At least 44 percent of mass shootings are domestic violence-related, and 61 percent of all femicides committed by men wielding guns in 2013 were related to domestic violence .

These statistics are only the most publicized, easily quantifiable manifestations of the intersection between domestic violence and firearms. Guns are used to terrorize far more often than they are used to kill. A survey by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found 16 percent of respondents’ abusers owned firearms. Of respondents whose abusers owned guns, 67 percent percent believed their abusers were capable of killing them.

These statistics are staggering, yet they are more than numbers—they are people. My colleague, Rob Valente at the Hotline, quotes two survey respondents. One respondent disclosed that her husband owns over 100 guns. She never knows where the guns are, or how many guns he is carrying at any given time. Another respondent tells of repeatedly waking up at night to the sound of her abuser releasing the safety on the gun he is holding to her head.

Recognizing the role of firearms in domestic violence, Congress passed the Lautenberg Amendment prohibiting people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or people subject to permanent domestic violence protective orders from owning firearms. In enacting this prohibition, Congress took into account two important factors that differentiate domestic violence from other forms of violence: 1) Domestic violence misdemeanors are frequently pled down from felony charges and involve felony-level violence; and 2) Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors rather than a single incident, so there is a high likelihood an abuser will reoffend.

Although the Lautenberg Amendment saved countless lives, it is no longer adequate; society has changed and the law must be updated to reflect these changes. Under existing law, the definition of domestic violence only includes abuse perpetrated by a current or former spouse, cohabitant or biological co-parent. Dating abuse does not trigger the firearm prohibition, despite the fact that current or former dating partners commit approximately half of all domestic violence homicides. Likewise, people convicted of misdemeanor stalking are not prohibited from owning firearms, although stalking is a key indicator of lethality; a 10-city study found that 76 percent of women killed by intimate partners were stalked before being murdered, and 85 percent of women who survive murder attempts were stalked.

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2015and its companion bill from Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Minn.) and Robert Dold (D-Ill.), Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, expand the existing domestic violence prohibitor to include dating abuse and stalking. These narrowly focused domestic violence bills could save countless lives without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. We at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, our colleagues at other organizations, advocates across the country, victims and survivors call on Congress to demonstrate their commitment to ending domestic violence by passing these two bills. The time for talk is over—it is time to take a stand!






If a man or a woman stays in a violent home, their life will continually rotate around the cycle of violence. Help is available. Look at this cycle and see if it is familiar to you.

If a man or a woman stays in a violent home, their life will continually rotate around the cycle of violence. Help is available. Look at this cycle and see if it is familiar to you.



The woman who has nodded to me from her porch

for weeks, still nodes now, bobs her head

leading me inside to see

21 grandchildren posed on a shelf,

sills full of colored glass.


Twice, I heard, she left her husband

and then returned


He stays outside with the dogs,

hollering them away from the barn.


Chickens flutter and squall,

leaving patches of brown feathers.


She says she’s been nodding 26 years.

The doctor calls it ‘the trembles’

but she knows something sharper

is pecking her brain.


Twice his fists have hit,

knocked her against the wall.

Twice she’s returned


to faces of grandchildren

perfectly still in the tilt

of their frames, glass

shining on every sill,


to hens squawking themselves into trees

whenever a dog comes near.

She sweeps up the puddles

of brown and white feathers

that fear send flying,


pours them into ticking

to cushion her relentless,

affirming head.

–Betsy Sholl






Arden, North Carolina. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Arden, North Carolina. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Power and Voice

The newest stats for Domestic Violence are that 1 in every 4 women will be physically abused at sometime in her life. So if you have 3 friends, and you yourself have not experienced physical abuse, then one of your 3 friends likely has. This can happen in any relationship you are in. A friendship, dating, even being married. An estimated 1.3 million women have been victims of Domestic Violence by an intimate partner.

Emotional and physical abuse are choices that the abuser makes for him/herself. There is a cycle of violence and this cycle includes a honeymoon period when the abuser is sorry; even to the point of tears, presents are given, and loving words cross the lips. These behaviors hold the victim in the relationship very often. Not always. It depends on the victim.


Power is something the abuser wants. This is borne out statistically. He/she wants the victim to always be somewhere he knows about. A sense of fear is created for the victim but also it is confusing and mind-boggling because the person you see is not the same personality that others see. They get the charming, thoughtful side. They see the tender, loving person. They do not see the person who sent you to the ER.


Voice is the ability of a human being to set boundaries and to choose to spend time with friends, neighbors and family. Isolation is the act of removing a victim from communication and association people from their support system. Terror and fear often close a victim’s mouth. S/he often feel alone, helpless and hopeless. If any of this sounds like your life, you are in danger. You need to get to a safe place. Most cities these days have shelters for victims and their children. There is legal help and counseling.


Don’t stay.


You are not alone.


You are not guilty of anything.


No matter what the abuser says…




Unlearning to not Speak

Blizzards of paper

in slow motion

sift through her.

In nightmares she suddenly recalls

a class she signed up for

but forgot to attend.

Now it is too late.

Now it is time for finals:

losers will be shot.

Phrases of men who lectured her

drift and rustle in piles.

Why don’t you speak up?

Why are you shouting?

You have the wrong answer,

wrong line, wrong face.

They tell her she is womb-man,

babymachine, mirror image, toy,

earth mother and penis-poor,

a dish of synthetic strawberry ice cream

rapidly melting.

She grunts to a halt.

She must learn again to speak

starting with I

Starting with We

starting as the infant does

with her own true hunger

and pleasure

and rage.    —Marge Piercy, feminist author and poet



Are You Being Abused?

End Violence in the Home

End Violence in the Home

I have found that young women have many questions about battering. They seem to lack information they need to be safe. Domestic Violence or abuse is a crime punishable by a fine and jail time. The states vary with the laws. Battering can begin at any time in a relationship. During the dating phase, after the wedding, when a woman is pregnant, or as the children grow up.

Abuse is physical, verbal or emotional. It can also be a combination of any of these. You have the right to live without fear.  Often in an abusive relationship, the abuser will begin trying to isolate the woman from friends and neighbors. He doesn’t want anyone to have influence on his woman besides him. Often he wants the women to stay home and not work. That outside contact can make controlling her more difficult. If a woman is working, she often is quiet at work. She is passive and is in the emergency room frequently. If she confides in a co-worker, she will insist that she loves and needs him. He says he loves her too. But this is not love. This is torture.

There is a cycle of violence which was identified in the seventies.

There is a cycle of violence which was identified in the seventies.

you_cant_beat_a_woman_fridge_magnet-r2f60f43b75094530ab858f2d1647231d_x7js9_8byvr_324If you can’t bring yourself to leave, then fill a go bag with items that are extremely necessary. Money, prescriptions, clothes, ID for you and the children, and what ever your children will need immediately. Hide it well. If another attack happens you will need these things to flee. If you can’t get to the go bag, just leave and go to your local shelter. Husbands do kill wives. So your safety is vital. The things he has told you about being stupid, ugly, trash, or that you want to be hit is pure BS. Don’t buy into what he says. There is nothing you can do to justify his abusing you.

National Organization of Women

National Organization of Women

The fear you live with day in and day out does not mean you deserve it or asked for it. Examples of physical abuse are: pinching, slapping,hitting, punching, burning, pushing you, twisting your arms, and you have the right to live without violence. Forced sex in a marriage is rape…spousal rape. It is also illegal. It is hard to leave because you often still love him but you need to be a good role model for your children.

Anatomy of Violence

Anatomy of Violence

Domestic Violence is learned generation after generation. Little girls learn to be victims and little boys learn to be abusers. Some boys will try to stop their fathers and will punch and kick and yell at the father to stop the violence. Even if the violence is not turned against him, he learns to disrespect women. He will statistically become an abuser.  So your children need positive role models. They need to know that you can discuss problems and work them out. Remember if your abuser kills you he may very well end up raising your children.

There is nothing wrong with you. You do not deserve to be hit, spit at, spoken to in a demeaning manner. Your city has many people who care what happens to you and your children. There is help available.

Stop the Violence

Stop the Violence

Don’t let this be you. You deserve better. If you need to go to a hospital for your injuries, tell the ER staff what really happened. They will notify the police and they will call the shelter for you. If you are being hit now, get out and you will find love again, the community will help you with housing and education. No one deserves to be beaten. It is so hard to decide about all of these things when you are being beaten frequently, but believe me you can go on to a good life. A life where you are safe and live without violence.