(WSAW, AP) – As details unfold in the deadly incident at the Waukesha Parade where a man took to the streets killing at least six people and injuring more than 40 others, advocates for survivors of the violence domestic violence continues to point to research showing a link between these crimes and mass violence.
Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, is the suspect in the Waukesha murders. He had a history of domestic violence. In fact, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said Brooks was leaving the scene of a family argument that had taken place minutes earlier when he made his way to the parade route.
“One of the things we know about domestic violence offenders is that they are really about power and control and they want to be able to control the people in their lives. And so when they feel like they can’t, that’s when they exert more worry and more pressure, ”said Jane Graham Jennings, executive director of The Women’s Community in Wausau.
She explained that domestic violence has a well-documented role in many incidents of mass violence, which are defined as when more than three people are killed. Most of the research focuses on mass shootings. A study of perpetrators convicted between 2009 and 2020 found that 53% of murders were linked to domestic violence. This percentage increases when looking at a narrower window between 2014 and 2019, where another study found that more than two-thirds of perpetrators had a history of domestic violence.
“There has been a history of violence against women, violence against intimate partners, and derogatory or horrific comments about women. Let them think that women are not equal citizens, ”noted Graham Jennings.
With Brooks, it was not about gun violence, but he had been released on $ 1,000 bail for a case in Milwaukee County earlier in November in which he is accused of intentionally bumping into a woman with his car. Prosecutors said they were investigating their bail recommendation in the case, calling it too weak.
“It can really trigger a feeling of anger and frustration in a lot of people, especially survivors of domestic violence who have been repeatedly injured after their abusive partner was released from prison, was able to post bail or was injured. released on bail and they thought they would. be safe and protected and they are not, ”she said. “And so seeing someone who has been released and has now committed this atrocity really makes people angry with the criminal justice system for letting them down.”
The role that pre-trial release and bail may have played in the Waukesha incident is prompting policy makers to make changes. However, there are several levels of law regarding sureties and what judges can consider and when.
Reports of increased violence
The light on domestic violence comes at a time when advocacy centers are generally seeing a decrease in the number of calls to their helplines.
“What we think is that families want to stay together for the holidays. They think everything is so stressful right now, when the holidays are over, when it gets less stressful, everything will be fine and it won’t be so bad if we can just get over it and everything will be fine.
Over the past year, as more people stay at home during the pandemic, Graham Jennings said reports of domestic violence have become more physically violent, making this season of people staying at home all the more worrying.
She noted that stress does not cause domestic violence, that the perpetrator’s need for power and control over the lives of the people in her life is the cause. This is an important distinction because it often means that when the stress of the holidays is over, the problems of the abusive relationship don’t end.
“Stress just might be a trigger that turns someone from verbal abuse to physical abuse. “
Some signs of an abusive relationship include extreme jealousy, the partner degrades or humiliates the other, or the partner speaks up for the other. It can take several attempts for a person to leave their abuser because they still love them often, and as family and friends get together, it can make it difficult if that known abuser is still coming to dinner.
“There’s no point in judging them and telling them what to do, because we don’t know what the consequences might be if they do what you think is best for them. This could put them more in danger.
Graham Jennings said that telling a person to just let the jerk off can often backfire because that person will stand up for themselves and come closer to them. So, she said friends and family need to support their loved one and give them space to navigate what they can do to get to safety and any other family they have with them.
“We listen to what they need and offer them thoughts like ‘I’m worried about you. How are you? If you don’t agree, please ask for help. ‘”
The women’s community runs its hotline 24/7, even during the holidays. Graham Jennings said even people who don’t want to officially report can call anonymously to discuss options and ask questions. This number is (715) 842-7323.
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