If you would like to support Women’s Resources, please Donate THANK YOU!

Is Violence Against Women a Predictor of Other Violence?

We’ve talked in this space before about why it’s critical to remember that the man who perpetrated Canada’s worst mass killing violently abused his female partner before leaving a heartbreaking trail of death and destruction through central Nova Scotia.

Calls are getting louder for whatever inquiry takes place into the shootings to include what’s referred to as a “feminist lens.” As a society, we’re finally starting to realize that the most common shared element among men who commit mass killings is their history of abusing the women in their lives. If violence against women is so often a predictor of other violence, advocates argue, then why not pay more attention to it?

An analysis that starts from the understanding that misogyny — hatred of women — pervades our society is going to produce more helpful results than one that starts from the idea that these kinds of mass killings somehow come out of nowhere. Viewing events through a feminist lens means we learn more about what might have precipitated the killings. That in turn would help us figure out how to stop them in future.

When a violent man’s attacks against his female partner or family member become more frequent or serious, police would be alerted to the possibility that his violence could escalate further and spill out into the community. (Indeed, in many cases, like that of the shooter in Nova Scotia, it already had.) Perhaps the horrible events of this past April could have been avoided completely had the authorities taken seriously a neighbour’s accounts of his brutal behaviour dating back nearly a decade, and watched for the danger signals.

Crimes that involve men’s abuse of women all too often end up hurting others, whether neighbours, children, friends or other family members. By using the right kind of lens, we might just be able to bring that problem into clearer focus and prevent it from happening again.

By Nancy Payne