When news stories like this one arise I feel so many things. I feel sadness and horror about the actual event, I feel the connection of the similarities I have experienced in my own abusive marriage, and I feel very thankful that I was able to survive the domestic violence and leave safely.
It is always eye opening to think about how lucky I am that I did get out and that my situation did not turn into a news story. It is tragic to me that there are so many correlations to these domestic violence stories and yet we have a President who is de-funding domestic violence support across the country and passing laws that make it easier for mentally ill veterans to get weapons. I think that this epidemic is only going to get worse and it is time that this country starts paying attention.
I read this article today and wanted to share how I can personally relate to Karen Smith and this tragic story. ‘She thought she had a wonderful husband, but she found out he was not wonderful at all’ Los Angeles Times 4/10/17
- Her abuser/murderer is a military veteran – please read my post The Military Loves Narcissists or Veterans and Domestic Violence for more of my personal story around The Narcissist, the military and domestic violence.
- Her abuser/murderer was a preacher who outwardly showed off his religious beliefs – The Narcissist at times seemed obsessed with religion and did his best to rope me into his personal belief system. Whenever he had the opportunity he would “preach” to others about his ideals and all of the “good Christian” things he did. It was just a way to play into his narcissism and create the image that he wanted others to think of him. He also used religion and God as a way to abuse me. When the Narcissist uses God Against You.
- Her abuser/murderer told the world about how great she was and how happy their marriage was – The Narcissist would use any opportunity he could to talk about me in public venues whether it was at an event, on social media, to my family, whatever. He would talk about how proud he was of me for x, y, z… he would talk about how great our marriage was, what a great wife I was, how happy we were. It used to make me extremely uncomfortable mainly because I didn’t believe any of it and knew what he said and did to me behind closed doors.
- Their relationship developed fast and they were “soulmates”– she thought she married her dream man and quickly found out that she was wrong. I had the same experience, yet I didn’t attempt to get out after a few months… I struggled for 8 years to make it work. In all honesty the timing of when I left probably saved my life. If I had attempted to leave when he was still being physically violent or when he was going through his post-military identity crisis… I have no idea what could have happened.
There are some simple facts in the equation of domestic violence that we all need to start paying attention to:
- Military Service has an impact on domestic violence. Military veterans who have seen combat are 4 times more likely to engage in domestic violence. SOURCE
- Guns have an impact on domestic violence. When abusers own a gun they are not very likely to actually injure their victim (only 2% of domestic violence cases in the US include a gun wound) but they are more likely to use the gun as a form of coercive control over their victim. The sad truth is that a woman is less likely to fight back or try to defend herself when a gun is involved, she will submit to save her life. SOURCE
- Leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for the victim. 50%-75% of women who are murdered in domestic violence situations are murdered after they leave their abuser. SOURCE
- Gun ownership makes leaving even more dangerous. 53% of women murdered with guns in the US were murdered by intimate partners or family members. SOURCE
- There are connections between Mass Shootings and Domestic Violence. The tactics of fear and control, and the belief that a grievance has been done against the attacker that warrants a violent response are common threads between those who initiate acts of terrorism and abusers. SOURCE
All of this is scary, and the sad thing is that it shouldn’t only be seen as a problem when it reaches mass shootings and terrorism. Violence is a problem all around and it often starts at home.
It is time that we all start taking this issue seriously… that we stop blaming the victims… that we make it harder for people with mental illness or a history of domestic violence to get their hands on weapons… that we make resources available to people who have been victims of abuse. I am scared of what comes next America.
3 thoughts on “San Bernardino Shooting & Domestic Violence”
Thank you so much for this post and this blog in general. Lots of important info here I wasn’t aware of, like domestic violence in military veterans & the stuff about using the gun as a form of coercive control. Two of my very close friends are survivors of narcissistic abuse, and I’ve found your blog to be immensely helpful in understanding what they’ve gone through & continue to heal from. Thank you for being so generous with sharing your story & your progress.
I think another really important issue to bring up with this particular story is race. Karen Smith was a Black woman. Black women face very disproportionate levels of domestic violence & are significantly more likely than white women to be murdered by their partners. This is due to the fact that our society views black women as disposable. We also tend to deny them their innocence. The stories of femecide that typically get news coverage are overwhelmingly white women of a certain class & fit a certain image of “respectability.” Stories of Black women are largely untold because they are never viewed as having the same innocence as white women. I think it’s also important to look at how our media and culture erases that experience when telling narratives of gendered violence. Of course it is horrible to think about ending up on the evening news. No woman should live with that fear. But it adds an extra layer of horror for those women who fear that they will be killed and there will be no news story, because no one will care.
If we want to end domestic abuse, it’s vital to support ($), listen to and amplify the voices of Black survivors whenever possible, so we can understand how racism fuels & enables this type of abuse. Zahira Kelly (@bad_dominicana on twitter) and Ijeoma Oluo are just two examples of many Black feminist/womanist activists who do this important work.
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Ladyhambeast, yes! Thank you for reading and sharing. Race is definitely an important part of this story and the broader issue of domestic violence. I interact a great deal with Zahira’s #maybehedoesnthityou tag and love what she’s been doing! ❤