November 23rd, 2017

Addressing domestic violence should be a top priority


By Medicine Hat News Opinon on November 7, 2017.

It’s an unfortunate coincidence that November, which marks Family Violence Prevention Month, also began with the massacre of 25 people attending the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

Details are still emerging about Sunday’s mass killing. But what has come to light is that the perpetrator, Devin Patrick Kelly, had a history of domestic violence, including being kicked out of the Air Force for assaulting his ex-wife and child in 2012.

Before Texas, there was the San Bernardino elementary school shooting on April 10, 2017. The shooter, with an alleged history of domestic violence walked into the school and murdered his estranged wife and her student.

In Canada, there was the mass killing in April 1996, when Mark Chahal shot and killed his estranged wife Rajwar Gakhal, and eight of her relatives. Gakhal had been in contact with police over threats he had made to her.

Phu Lam, who killed eight people — including two children —in Edmonton in 2014, had a the history of domestic violence associated with

Then there’s the Claresholm Highway Massacre occurred on Dec. 2011, when a 21-year-old man shot and killed his ex-girlfriend alongside two men who were passengers in the vehicle.

The trial of Basil Borutski has just begun in Ontario. The man faces murder charges after a rampage that left three of his ex’s dead. He had been charged and convicted in offences against two of them prior to their deaths.

When Stephen Paddock killed hundreds in Las Vegas, reports soon emerged of him being verbally abusive to his girlfriend in public.

Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people when opening fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. His widow alleges he was physically abusive towards her.

Multiple ex-wives have alleged being abused by Robert Dear, who killed three people when shooting up a Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015.

Esteban Santiago killed five people in January 2017 when he opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. He had previously been accused of assaulting and strangling his girlfriend.

Thankfully, James T. Hodgkinson didn’t kill anyone when he took aim at Republican politicians in this year at a congressional baseball practice. Hodgkinson had been accused of strangling and beating his foster daughter.

A tragedy that will always be remembered in Alberta is the killing of four RCMP officers on March 3, 2005 by James Roszko when police attempted to execute a warrant on the farm. Of note, Roszko had a history of violent and sexual offences.

Even when domestic violence charges aren’t present, mass killers carry with them a misogynist rage. For example, the ramblings of Marc Lépine, George Sodini and Elliot Rodger reveal men who held a deep hatred towards women, blaming them for their personal failures. Online misogyny and trolling was a staple for Alexandre Bissonnette, who killed six and injured 19 on Jan. 29, 2017, when he shot up a mosque in Quebec City.

As we mark Family Violence Prevention Month, this is all a reminder that domestic violence isn’t simply a private matter. It’s a red flag. The canary in the coal mine when it comes to the capacity for even greater violence — and why addressing it should be a top priority for people, communities and government.

(Peggy Revell is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to http://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)


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