NEW YORK — Everytown and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements to mark the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence and gun violence are inextricably linked, impacting millions of families and communities across the country.
Guns exacerbate the power and control dynamic used by domestic abusers to inflict emotional abuse and exert coercive control over their victims — which is only worsened by conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a rise in calls to domestic violence hotlines across the country. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported an increase in traffic between March and May—and predicted a continued increase throughout the end of year. Today, people are still isolated, anxious, and struggling financially due to COVID-19, and the risk of domestic violence is still elevated. Access to firearms makes domestic abusers five times more likely to kill their victims.
“Domestic violence is a public health crisis facing women and families in the U.S.,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Our weak gun laws make it too easy for domestic abusers to access guns, and combined with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the related economic fallout, it’s only serving to exacerbate the deadly nexus of guns and domestic violence. We honor survivors by fighting for solutions to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.”
“I know what it is like to be frightened in my own home,” said Leslie Washington, a volunteer with the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action and a member of the Everytown Survivor Network who was threatened with a gun by her abuser. “Everyone doesn’t have the luxury of being safe in their home. This October, my heart is with other survivors and families who know the devastating effects of domestic violence and gun violence.”
“Gun violence and domestic violence haven’t stopped during the coronavirus,” said Chloe Gayer, a volunteer with Students Demand Action in Iowa and survivor of domestic violence. “As people continue to be socially distant, lawmakers should start prioritizing legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers instead of their relationship with the gun lobby.”
Every month, 53 women in the U.S. are shot and killed by intimate partners and nearly 1 million women alive today have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner. Also, over 4.5 million women reported being threatened with a gun.
This October, Everytown for Gun Safety is honoring survivors and advocating for proven solutions to prevent domestic violence including keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, closing the Charleston loophole, and increasing access to services and trained advocates.
More information on gun-related domestic violence is available here. To speak with a policy expert, Moms Demand Action and/or Students Demand Action volunteer, please do not hesitate to reach out.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, available 24/7, for confidential assistance from a trained advocate. If you’re unable to speak safely via phone, you can chat online at thehotline.org.