Mass Shootings & Domestic Violence

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The most recent mass shootings are heartbreaking and unfortunately part of a prolonged and upsetting continuum. Domestic terrorism and relationship abuse are profoundly interconnected. Both are all about power and control. The Retreat condemns every aggressive act of violence, including the recent shooting in Buffalo and the school shooting in Texas.

This problem cannot be dismissed as “a mental health issue.” People who harm others, be it their larger community, families or intimate partners, often suffer from a misguided sense that they are entitled to dominate others and seek to gain power.  But true respect is earned through helping, not hurting, others. 

We need to put an end to violence and extremism and prevent people from threatening and harming others. The Retreat calls on you to help us promote healthy relationships and foster respect through community building and kindness.  

Join us in our work to end all violence and abuse.  Visit The Retreat’s website at or follow us @allagainstabuse. 

Previous Remarks for the Patch article on mass shootings: Mass shootings and Domestic Violence

with Helen Atkinson-Barnes, Education Program Director at The Retreat


Mass shooters are perpetrators of violence.  Unfortunately, mass shooting events have many similarities to domestic violence incidents. They both function as a way for a person to gain control–sometimes in the form of vengeance or self-aggrandizement for those who feel entitled to power, but who in many instances feel aggrieved and imagine themselves to have been victimized.

In fact, these events are often one and the same–in a majority of cases a mass shooting is simply an extension of a perpetrator’s targeting of their partner. They seek to harm them with an attitude that proclaims, “If I can’t have/own you/do what I want, then no one else can.” And they make that point by bringing down others in the process, including family, friends, colleagues and even random strangers. The main difference is that mass shootings are highly public events: instead of individuals and their families being terrorized, entire communities are.  

New York State’s gun laws have been an important tool in preventing domestic violence offenders from accessing weapons andThe New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence -NYSCADV-has lobbied to strengthen them.

Frequently perpetrators of mass shootings have a history of domestic violence.

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