The massacre at Columbine High School was 19 years ago today and listening to the voices of students, it feels like not much has changed. School shootings are still common and mass violence has become all too familiar. From students at Parkland to music fans in Las Vegas to churchgoers in Sutherland Springs, questions are being asked about what can be done.
In the 19 years since Columbine, debates have raged about what or who is to blame for gun violence. We’ve heard it blamed on Marilyn Manson. We’ve heard it blamed on easy access to guns. We’ve heard it blamed on violent video games.
We want to remind everyone about a factor in mass violence that is too often forgotten: domestic violence. In seven out of the eight largest mass homicide events in recent American history, the domestic terrorist had a history of domestic violence or misogyny.
The shooter in Las Vegas was verbally abusive to his partner in public. The shooter at Pulse in Orlando had a history of domestic battery and strangulation. The shooter at Sandy Hook believed women were inherently selfish.
If we are ever going to solve our country’s undeniable issue with mass violence and gun violence, we will have to face the fact that we live under the threat of a cult of toxic masculinity. When men feel entitled to women’s affection and attention, they learn to respond violently when they don’t get it. Boys are taught that they are owed sex, relationships, and obedience from women. Boys are taught that they must never, under any circumstances, show or feel any emotion other than anger. Boys are taught that the best way to respond to any sort of disrespect or rejection is violence. This is a dangerous combination.
Domestic violence must be taken seriously. Abusers with a history of nonfatal strangulation must be taken seriously. We need to work, as a society, to build a safer world where our children are allowed to be whole and healthy individuals. Until then, however, we need to work harder to keep guns out of the hands of abusers and take misogynistic and abusive threats by people with a history of violence seriously.
If you’ve been a victim of violence, help is available. Give us a call 24/7 at 815.756.5228.