[Content Note: Mass violence; terror; domestic violence.]
When I heard about Stephen Paddock's mass shooting in Las Vegas, I tweeted
that it was probable he had a history of domestic violence. As happens every time, countless people (who don't understand what "probably" means) yelled at me that I was spreading disinformation, because the patriarchy is so thick in our culture that people reflexively want to silence any woman who speaks about toxic masculinity and affiliated violence, and defend any man about whom she may be speaking.
There are people so intent on giving even the fucking worst
men the benefit of the doubt that they'd unaccountably believe a mass murdering piece of terrorist shit might have been a solid boyfriend.
Unlikely. To say the least.
And not just because it beggars belief to presume that someone who kills dozens of people and injures hundreds more refrains from interpersonal abuse. Also because there is a demonstrable link between domestic violence and mass violence.
This time was no different: Paddock was "remembered for berating his girlfriend
" by Starbucks employees, who recalled he "had a nasty habit of berating Marilou Danley in public. 'It happened a lot,' Esperanza Mendoza, supervisor of the Starbucks, said Tuesday."
If that is how he treated Danley in public, we can imagine how he treated her behind their constantly closed blinds
* * *
I have been writing in this space for years
about expressed misogyny and domestic violence as a precursor to mass violence, public shootings, and acts of terror.Elliot Rodger
. Ben Moynihan
. Marc Lépine
. Seung-Hui Cho
. George Sodini
. Anders Behring Breivik
. Jaylen Fryburg
. Mark Dorch
. Christopher Harper-Mercer
. All of these men had expressed a resentment of and hatred for women.December 2012
: Adam Lanza goes on a killing spree at an elementary school. He started his rampage by killing his mother
: Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon, is reported
to have been arrested for domestic violence against his girlfriend several years before the bombing.February 2015
: Cedric Ford goes on a shooting spree, wounding 14 people and killing three others across multiple sites after being "served a protection from abuse order just hours before the first shooting."June 2015
: Dylann Roof justifies his mass murder of parishioners at the AME church in Charleston by asserting his ownership of white women.November 2015
: Robert Dear shoots at a Planned Parenthood facility, killing three people. He has a history of anti-choice vandalism, stalking, peeping, and domestic violence.June 2016
: Omar Mateen goes on a deadly shooting spree at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. He has a history of domestic violence, including against an ex-wife whose parents had to physically extricate her from the marriage.July 2016
: Micah Xavier Johnson ambushes police and kills five officers. He was discharged
from military service for sexual harassment.July 2016
: Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel goes on a violent rampage in Nice on Bastille Day, after his wife threw him out of the house and filed for divorce. A neighbor said
: "He kept to himself but would always rant about his wife. He had marital problems and would tell people in the local cafe."September 2016
: Arcan Cetin kills five people at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington. He has a criminal record that includes domestic violence assault charges.January 2017
: Alexandre Bissonnette kills six Muslims at their mosque. He is found to have a history of making
"frequent extreme comments in social media denigrating refugees and feminism."
Which is not even the complete list of misogynist mass killers, nor a comprehensive accounting of the incidents of mass violence committed by people with a history of domestic violence.
When the Huffington Post analyzed five years of data on mass shootings, they found
"that a majority of these mass shootings were related to domestic violence. In 57 percent of the incidents, a family member or an intimate partner was among the victims."
And that is just mass shootings directly related
to domestic violence. If any incident in which the perpetrator had any history of domestic violence were included, the number would shoot up exponentially.
"The pattern," wrote
Pamela Shifman and Salamishah Tillet in the New York Times
in 2015, "is striking. Men who are eventually arrested for violent acts often began with attacks against their girlfriends and wives. In many cases, the charges of domestic violence were not taken seriously or were dismissed."
This is the reality of mass violence:
Not all men who commit domestic violence go on to become mass killers — but virtually every man who commits a public act of violence has a history of domestic violence.
We continue to ignore this glaring red flag at our collective peril.
Which is only but one of many
reasons that we should be taking the public health and safety crisis of domestic violence much more seriously than we do. Starting with the fact that women deserve to live lives free from abuse.