Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Real Story of Mass Violence- Domestic Violence

Last week, the United States suffered two more highly publicized shootings in which multiple people were injured or killed. At a UPS facility in San Francisco, three employees were killed and at least two more were injured. On a ballfield in Washington D.C., Rep. Steve Scalise and three others were shot, but all are expected to survive. The alleged shooters from both cases are deceased. These follow cases like the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub, Emanuel AME Church, and in San Bernadino. After any mass casualty event, law enforcement and the media will dissect the life and possible motives of the shooters. What led up to this shooting? Were there warning signs? How can we prevent another one from happening?

One important thing to note, however, is that not all mass shootings makes the news like the two did last week. These types of shootings, carried out in public, are not the rule for mass shootings. They are the exception.

The majority of mass shootings where 4 or more victims are killed (54%) include the murder of an intimate partner or a family member. The majority of these cases (70%) also occur in the home, not in public. The story of mass violence in American is not one of religion or race or politics; the story of mass violence in America is a story of domestic violence.

To have a meaningful discussion of violence in America, especially of mass fatal violence, we need to have a meaningful discussion about domestic violence. We need to talk about why more than 11,000 of our St. Louis area neighbors had to seek services after being victims of domestic violence and why more than 500 sought services but were unable to receive them due to program capacity. We need to talk about why there are only 130 domestic violence shelter beds in St. Louis and why, even with 40,000 bed nights used in those shelter beds in 2015, over 5,000 people were turned away because the shelters were full. We need to talk about why agencies have to do so much with so little. We need to talk about why there are thousands of our neighbors suffering in silence. We need to talk about why domestic violence is not just a private issue. It is a public crisis.

Crime Victim Advocacy Center serves victims of domestic violence regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. If you have been a victim of domestic violence and would like to speak to an advocate, counselor, or lawyer, please call CVAC’s hotline at 314-652-3623.

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