Why don’t we take violence against women more seriously?

Reflecting back upon the awful tragedy earlier this summer when a gunman attacked members of Congress at their Washington, D.C., baseball practice, I’m reminded of an important part of the story that seemed to me to be quickly overshadowed by other events.

As with so many of these stories, a man entered a public space and started firing, as we all watch the news helplessly. But as details emerged about the shooter, James Hodgkinson, it turned out that he had a history of violence.

According to a story in Time, Hodgkinson had previously attacked his daughter and her friends by punching, choking and even shooting at them. However, the charges were dismissed. He had reached a deal with prosecutors and was most likely going to avoid punishment.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Other mass shooters have also had a long history of violence against women. The man who killed the 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando had previously abused his ex-wife.

The Ft. Lauderdale airport shooter had previously been arrested for attacking and strangling his girlfriend. The man who killed three people at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado 2015 had been accused of abusing his ex-wives. The list goes on and on.

Clearly, there is a link between domestic violence and mass shootings. It appears as though the killers begin with hurting the women close to them and then escalate to opening fire in public spaces. There has been some research on this matter and there appears to be a link, according to a piece in The New Yorker published shortly after the Washington shooting.

Wrote Jane Mayer in the magazine, “No one wants to talk policy reform (yet), but there’s one that is glaringly necessary, and really ought not to be divisive. James Hodgkinson reportedly had a history of domestic violence. Yet he was able to legally obtain an assault rifle. These two facts are incompatible with public safety. … Obviously, not everyone accused of domestic violence becomes a mass shooter. But it’s clear that an alarming number of those who have been accused of domestic abuse pose serious and often a lethal threats, not just to their intimate partners but to society at large. The statistical correlation between domestic violence and mass shootings has also been documented.”

Knowing this, I wonder why we don’t we as a society take domestic violence more seriously? The men who have committed these acts of violence on the public were never punished for what they did earlier on to their own wives and daughters. In fact for some of them, the charges were dismissed or dropped completely.

Why aren’t we punishing these men or sending them to treatment? Do we not value the lives of our women? Do we not consider it a serious offense when these men hurt them?

As a woman, I do not feel valued in our society when violence against us is not taken seriously. It makes me feel unsafe to know that someone could hurt me and that they would face no repercussions. Women are falling the through the cracks and are not receiving the justice they deserve.

Perhaps if we learn to take these crimes more seriously and learn to value the women in our society, then maybe we could prevent some of these tragedies from happening again.

Tara Moore is a writer from Dayton.

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