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Terrorism and Domestic Violence

A 58 year old Virginia pastor is charged with first degree murder of his wife, his stepdaughter and the stepdaughter's boyfriend on Thanksgiving.  This is domestic violence's end game.

A 26 year old, ex soldier, busted into a Texas church on a Sunday morning last month hoping to kill his wife. Since she wasn't there that morning, he killed her grandmother and 25 other parishioners. He had come to the attention of law enforcement when he beat his first wife and fractured her son's skull and when, just a year later, he threatened his second wife.

In August, a 20 year old neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one young woman. He had come to the attention of law enforcement before when his mother had called 911 to report that her son had hit her and threatened her.

The terrorist in the Orlando night club shooting who killed 49 had choked both of his previous wives.

The one thing everyone remembers about Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas gunman who killed 58 and wounded almost 500 more, was how demeaning he was to his girlfriend.

We've written extensively about Domestic Violence. What we haven't addressed is its link to terrorism. It turns out that most terrorists have a history of domestic violence. That makes sense. If you are willing to gun down people you probably don't hold those close to you in high regard, either.

Knowing this link between terrorism and domestic violence should cause us, though, to take the conduct of domestic violence even more seriously than we already do. The Texas killer was discharged from the Air Force for "bad conduct" when he beat his wife and fractured his step-son's skull. Bad conduct? That's an understatement. As a consequence, having served a brief stint in jail for his bad conduct, he continued to travel down his violent road to the next violent end. Had judges deemed beating your wife and fracturing your step-son's skull more than just bad conduct, perhaps 26 people would be alive today.

Researchers already know that if an abuser chokes his victim, he is far more likely to kill her. This is the single greatest determiner to homicide in domestic violence situations. But if we link the conduct of domestic violence to a much higher likelihood of the act of terrorism, hopefully our judges will be even more more willing to protect the victim and realize the danger she is in. Like the Dixie Chicks sang about Earl, "Earl walked right through that restraining order and put her in intensive care." These domestic abusers aren't terribly concerned about norms and decency and orders. And when you realize that they are well on their way to an act of terrorism, you understand just how out of control and dangerous these abusers really are.

Abusers: if you don't want to be equated with a terrorist, don't commit domestic violence. Don't beat your wife. Don't hold her down. Don't choke her.

Judges: if you are hearing a case of domestic violence, take it seriously. Not only might the defendant be willing to kill his victim the next opportunity he gets, the defendant before you could be the next mass shooter you hear about on CNN.  Your name won't be far behind in that report.

Victims: get out now. If you wait another day to get to safety, tomorrow may be a day that you never see.

Terrorism is no trifling matter. Neither is domestic violence. Now as we see, they are actually quite similar.

Michael Manely

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