“You better say your prayers and get ready”: Guns within the context of partner abuse.

Lynch, K.R., & Logan, TK. (2018)
Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 33(4), 686 – 711
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This study focused on how women in Kentucky who have experienced IPV feel about gun violence and protections from gun violence.


Numerous investigations have explored risk factors associated with intimate partner homicide. One of the most comprehensive studies involved an 11-city study in the U.S., where a sample of female intimate partner homicide victims were compared with a sample of female intimate partner violence victims (Campbell et al., 2003). That study revealed several major risk factors for intimate partner homicide, specifically including separation from a controlling abuser and an abuser’s access to a firearm (Campbell et al., 2003). Firearms are the most commonly used weapon to murder a partner in the United States (Fox & Zawitz, 2007; Gerney & Parsons, 2014), and the presence of a firearm in abusive situations further increases the likelihood that a partner will be killed (Campbell et al., 2003; Saltzman, Mercy, Ocarroll, Rosenberg, & Rhodes, 1992).

The present study used five focus groups with women experiencing IPV to better understand the complexity of how they feel about gun violence and protections from gun violence within the context of partner violence. Participants consisted of 42 women who were recruited through domestic violence shelters and programs in a single U.S. state. Three main themes were examined in the focus group discussions: (a) guns used within the context of partner abuse, (b) victims using guns as protection from an abuser, and (c) mandated gun restrictions as protection in partner abuse. A total of nine subthemes were organized under the three general themes. Within the first main theme, participants discussed that although abuse occurs with and without guns, guns are uniquely dangerous. In the second main theme, participants expressed concern regarding the dangers of using a gun for self-defense as well as the individual right to own a gun for self-defense. In the third main theme, participants expressed their frustrations that victims are not taken seriously by the justice system and the difficulties of enforcing mandated gun restrictions. The findings from this study have implications for developing protective strategies against gun violence for victims of partner violence.

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