Why the Many Reports of Men Killing their Wives & Families Are So Disturbing

by Hilary Christian

Domestic violence is, unfortunately, all too prevalent in our society. From NFL players to singers to our own family members, coworkers, and friends, we have all been touched by domestic violence in some way. However the recent stories in the last couple of weeks involving men killing their wives and ex-partners in domestic disputes are even more disturbing as some of them involve the men killing multiple people—including their own children—before killing themselves.

Last December a Florida man was charged with killing his estranged wife after her remains were found inside his minivan. Family members reported that the couple had been in physical altercations right before he drove away with her. He later turned himself in to police.

In January, a New York man who allegedly believed his girlfriend was unfaithful went on a killing spree fatally shooting her, her mother, and one of his daughters before turning the gun on himself. Luckily his other young daughter, who was also shot but survived, was able to alert authorities.

And earlier this month, a Georgia man went to the home of his ex-wife, shot and killed her, two of their children, and his ex-wife’s boyfriend after a longstanding dispute over child support and taxes. Afterwards, he walked outside and took his own life.

Senseless killings and young lives lost, all within the last 60 days.

As I read about these stories online, I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that there had been a history of violence and abuse in each case. What I found disheartening was that no criminal charges were ever brought against any of these men. Police reports and even a protective order had been filed in the past, but no charges, no arrests and no jail time. No one deserves to be abused or assaulted in any way. This influx of men killing their spouses and families just points to the troubling fact that the failure to report domestic violence and hold abusers accountable can possibly lead to more lethal violence. In an article at Essence.com, the City of New York recently released a study saying that "intimate partner violence disproportionately impacts Black women, who comprised 67 percent of family related homicides from 2012 to 2013."

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women have been victimized by violence and 1 in 15 children have been exposed to intimate partner violence. But oftentimes, domestic violence is something that is kept hidden and not talked about. Shame and fear keep victims quiet. Friends and loved ones sometimes turn a blind eye or think it’s none of their business. And when a domestic violence case does happen to make the news, it typically involves a celebrity or two. Pictures and videos of the incidents are played over and over in the media, which just sensationalizes the issue instead of bringing critical awareness. The victims are scrutinized, the abusers are vilified, and their stories just end up as nothing more than something to chat about over the watercooler at work.

But last week, this issue took the spotlight in a positive way, when the President of the United States interrupted the Grammys to make a powerful PSA about domestic violence. Having the leader of the most powerful country leverage his position to bring the prevalence of domestic violence to the hearts and minds of viewers was a smart move. Millions of people, who were really just tuning in to watch their favorite artist perform, were able to hear his message, loud and clear that, “It’s on us, all of us, to create a culture where violence isn’t tolerated,” making the issue of domestic violence everyone’s business.

Almost daily, our social media news feeds and timelines are flooded with stories of killings and beatings, making us more desensitized to the abuse and the devastating impact it can have. We sometimes forget that the women being abused aren’t the only victims as research shows that children are much more harmed by living in a home of domestic abuse than they are by separation or divorce. That is why President Obama’s message during one of the most watched television events of the season was so important, and it reminded me yet again why I voted for that man. Twice.

We may never know for sure if there was any one thing that could have prevented the recent killings and my heart goes out to the families and loved ones as they try to make sense of it all. But the more attention that is created around this issue—and the more people speak out against it—may make it easier for victims to speak up, to share their story, and hold their abusers accountable before it’s much too late.
Photo: LaToya Andrews with her ex-husband Eric Prathers and their four children (AP)

Hilary Christian is a freelance writer and fundraiser from Chicago who is a regular contributor to Arielle Loren's Corset Magazine. Her work has also been featured in Wild Sister Magazine and Rebellious Magazine for Women. Check out her blog, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook.

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