The Be Project: Empowering Youth to be part of the solution to end relationship violence

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Nov 13, 2017

Warning Signs by Tiffany Wicks

There are a lot of mass shootings in America. There are so many, that, some of us become desensitized to the information. However, the events of  Sunday’s shooting in Texas really shook me. Not because it was in my own state, but because this could have been avoided if domestic violence and sexual assault were taken more seriously on a national level.

From recent news reports, the shooter had an extensive history of hurting others. There were calls to the house about domestic abuse occurring, and the police called it “teenage drama”. While in the Air Force, he was court martialed for assault on his wife and son, and was thrown in military jail for a year. In 2014, there was a charge of harming an animal. And, most recently, there was an open case of sexual assault. This man had a long list of not only red flags, but of actual violent acts. Yet, he still was able to kill 26 people, most of whom were children. The presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increased the risk of homicide by 500%. In the United States, domestic violence abusers accounted for 10% of all gun, but those with a history of domestic abuse account for 54% of all mass shootings. 1 

The problem lies within the issue of domestic violence still not being seen as an issue that affects lives beyond the abuser, victim and their immediate family. In this case, he was mad at his mother-in-law, and went to her church to kill others. Ultimately, he killed his wife’s grandmother. This was a large display of exerting power and control over another person. Was this a way to show his wife that crying for help to her mother was not acceptable to him? Was this a way to threaten her more and show her she can’t run or hide from him because he will kill her loved ones? I can almost bet that one of those things is true. However, if military, police officers, justice officials understood the warning signs and impact of domestic violence, would this event ever have occurred?

The Washington Post published a poignant article that addresses domestic violence as a national security issue. Karen Attiah asks, “How many Americans must be felled by bullets have to happen before we understand that the safety of women and children at home is not just a private matter but also essential to public safety?” 2  This question is so relevant. When will this issue come to light in a way that takes abuse seriously enough to protect current and future victims? Better yet, when abusers are held accountable in the justice system as in this case of this shooter, when do we extend accountability toward a path of rehabilitation?

I don’t have the answers to all these questions, but something must be done. Currently, while we mourn as a nation, we must also educate ourselves on the warning signs. Don’t stop learning and sharing this knowledge. We may not change policy or the protocols in the justice system right away, but we may save a life and get them to safety. And, hopefully one day, we can come to a place where abusers are held emotionally accountable as equally as criminally accountable so that one life who was saved can turn to two.

If you or a loved one are in an abusive situation, The Family Place can help. We offer a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, counseling, and job and housing assistance. If your partner has agreed to seek help, we offer batterer’s intervention services and partner advocacy for family rehabilitation. For more information, please visit or calling 214.941.1991. For information on bringing intervention education to your community, please email the



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