Women are up to 83 percent more likely to experience repeat abuse by their male partners if a weapon is used in the initial abuse incident, according to a new study that has implications for victims, counselors and police.
Michigan State University researcher Amy Bonomi and colleagues studied the domestic abuse police reports of nearly 6,000 couples in Seattle during a two-year period. An estimated one in four women in the United States experience domestic violence at least once in their lifetime.
Because previous research showed that domestic abuse is more common in poor urban neighborhoods, the researchers expected to find that repeat violence could be predicted by where the couple lived.
But that wasn’t the case. Instead, the main predictor of ongoing domestic violence was the use of a knife, gun or even a vehicle in the first incident. In those cases, women were 72 percent more likely to make follow-up calls to police for physical abuse and 83 percent more likely to call for nonphysical abuse – such as a partner threatening to kill them.
“What this is telling police is that they are likely to be called back to this particular residence if a weapon is involved the first time they are called out,” said Bonomi, chairperson and professor in MSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “It’s an indication of the danger and severity of abuse over time.”
“The presence of weapons in the home,” she added, “is also a red flag for the women themselves and the counselors who deal with domestic violence.”
No surprise to me. I’ve spent most of my life around guns. That means responsible gun owners – including friends who are coppers – who treat firearms as the dangerous weapons they are, who practice sound safety procedures in their home and lives off the job. That also means the gang I ran with as an ignorant teenager, the gangsters who were part of family life in the poor neighborhoods I lived in most of my life.
Folks who need guns as an emotional crutch generally need more than that prop to keep from stupid behavior. Including family violence.