One million American women have survived a gunshot wound or been shot at, according to a 2016 review. But a gun doesn’t have to go off to cause harm in an abusive relationship. The same study estimated that 4.5 million women in the United States have been bullied or coerced with a firearm by an intimate partner.
“If the gun is simply displayed in a hostile way, it can create an ongoing environment of threat and intimidation,” the study’s lead author told us. “It can facilitate chronic, ongoing, physical — as well as sexual and psychological — abuse.”
The problem of “coercive control” includes any behavior that seeks to make an intimate partner feel it’s too dangerous to leave the relationship. Guns, because they are so lethal, can be a darkly effective means to that end. Their mere presence has the potential to elicit a victim’s compliance.
For an upcoming article, The Trace is reporting on this often-overlooked aspect of domestic violence. Have you ever been threatened with a gun in an intimate relationship? We are interested in hearing your story. Please fill out the short survey below.
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