By Qudsia Raja, Policy Director, National Domestic Violence Hotline
In cases of domestic violence where guns are involved, whether they are being used as a form of coercive control or to physically hurt a partner, the risk of fatality increases exponentially. Every day at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, we hear stories from survivors involving abusive partners with access to guns. Some survivors have shared that their partners silently sit in the living room polishing their guns as a way to threaten them into staying. In other cases, abusive partners threaten to hurt children or pets with firearms. We also hear about abusive partners who have shot at survivors or held guns to their heads to intimidate and control them.
In the U.S., guns are often the weapons of choice for abusers, used in over 50% of all cases of domestic violence homicides. Just the mere presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of fatality for women by five times. While firearms are commonly used by abusive partners to exert power and control, we know that each case is unique and warrants its own specific safety plan.
In an effort to #WorkAgainstViolence and support survivors in cases where abusive partners have access to firearms, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has developed a tip sheet with frequently asked questions to help survivors navigate their unique situations. To view and download this tip sheet, click here. We strongly recommend you use a safe device that your abusive partner does not have access to when downloading this tip sheet. If you are experiencing abuse, know that you are not alone. Advocates are available to speak 24 hours a day to provide support, safety planning and resources at: 1-800-799-7233.
YWCA’s Week Without Violence is part of a global movement to end violence against women and girls with the World YWCA. Want to join the movement to end gender-based violence? Learn more at www.YWCAweekwithoutviolence.org and join the conversation on Twitter with #WorkAgainstViolence.