Tuesday 20 June 2017

Many terrorists' first victims are their wives - but we're not allowed to talk about that

Image result for domestic violence

In America, they call it the Day Three Story. After a mass shooting, depending on whether the suspect is young or old, white, Asian or black, Muslim or Christian, the press speculates on his motives (and yes, it is almost always a "he"). And then on Day Three, when attention has wandered elsewhere, when he's been deemed a "lone wolf" (white) or a "dangerous radical who hates our way of life" (Muslim), another piece of the jigsaw emerges. He has a history of domestic violence. 

Who are the most likely victims of an American mass shooter, by the way? Would you care to take a guess? It's overwhelmingly likely to be his family. (Of mass killers between 2009 and 2015, 16 per cent had previously been charged with domestic violence. More than half included a partner or close family member in their death toll.) We also know that the time a woman is most in danger from our violent partner is when she tries to leave - when he feels worried that his control is slipping away. 

These incidents are not often described as terrorism, despite a concerted attempt from women's groups to draw out the parallels with other mass killers. One of the most moving statements I've read this year was by the sons of Lance Hart, who killed his wife Claire, along with their daughter Charlotte, after she finally announced she would leave him. On Facebook, Luke Hart wrote:

"It was the result of decades of abuse and controlling and intimidating behaviour. He was a tyrant who wouldn’t let his family live outside of his domination. Our father was a terrorist living within our own home; he had no cause but to frighten his family and to generate his own esteem from trampling and bullying us. For over a decade we had tried to leave on numerous occasions but he manipulated and threatened on every occasion."
Lance Hart killed himself after shooting his wife and daughter - something which is typical in "family annilihation" cases. 

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