Today, O.J. Simpson was granted parole in Nevada. Also today, by a dark coincidence that feels like photo negative kismet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on female murder victims.
The connection between domestic violence and murder is well documented. But today’s CDC report paints a picture of just how deadly abusive partners are to women in particular.
Of more than 10,000 women killed between 2003 and 2014, the CDC found that 55 percent were murdered at the hand of a male partner. Previous research found that only 5 to 7 percent of male murder victims died at the hand of a romantic partner, as The Atlantic notes. The report also found that about a third of female victims killed by their partners had recently been in an argument with them, and that 15 percent of victims killed by their partners were pregnant. Most of the murders involved guns.
There’s a clear humanitarian case for keeping firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers, since domestic abusers frequently use those firearms to kill their partners, who are often women. But it’s tough to get society at large to demonstrate that it cares much for women as a population. It’s tougher still to get society at large to give a damn about marginalized women. (Black women, by the way, are most likely to be killed by current or former intimate partners.)
Hurting women isn’t just a leading indicator for killing women. Domestic abuse is a warning sign for a host of other types of violence, from terrorism to mass shootings. Quite simply, research is showing that spousal abuse isn’t a private matter that exists within the walls of a home. Leaving it unchecked is dangerous to society at large.
Recent analysis of mass shooters found that 16 percent of mass shooters had been previously charged with domestic violence and that “the majority of mass shootings in the United States are related to domestic or family violence.”
The man who shot and killed 54 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida last year had previously abused his wife. So did the man who perpetrated the March 2017 attack in London that killed four and injured more than 50. So did the man who attacked a school in San Bernardino this April.
Not all misogynists are violent, but a lot of violent men sure seem to identify hard with misogyny. Cosmo DiNardo, who stands accused of killing four men in Pennsylvania and possibly more elsewhere, was aggressive and creepy toward women online. The man who opened fire in Santa Barbara, California in 2013 blamed women who wouldn’t sleep for him in a videotaped manifesto. The perpetrator of a 2014 attack near a Roseburg, Oregon community college did, too.
Advocates have been calling on law enforcement to take domestic violence more seriously for years, not just for the sake of the victims, but for the sake of public safety. Given how little has been done, how easy it is for abusers to access firearms, how easy it is to continue hurting and killing, it’s easy to feel cynical about what, if any, effect this new CDC finding will have on the status quo.
As anybody who was sentient in 1994 knows, O.J. Simpson was never convicted of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. He’s being paroled for time served in connection with a different violent crime: armed robbery.