Officials: Danger of domestic violence deaths increases 500% with gun in household

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The community of Mink Shoals is still reeling from this week’s double murder-suicide that appears to be the result of a domestic dispute.

Some are wondering what could have been done differently, or who could’ve helped prevent it?

Currently, the domestic violence shelters managed by the YWCA’s domestic violence program are almost at capacity.

“People often wonder ‘what could I have done?’ and most likely that’s nothing,” said Julie Britton Haden is the director of the YWCA’s Resolve family abuse program.

“People often wonder ‘what could I have done?’ and most likely that’s nothing.”

She says oftentimes the only two things you can do is to believe the victim and to be supportive.

“Be there, for when they need you and when they reach out to you, in a very non-demanding way,” she said.

Haden says domestic abuse victims typically find themselves slowly being isolated from friends and family by their abuser.

At other times the friend or family member will write them off out of frustration, but she says when it comes to escaping, this is when the victim will need a support network the most.

In 2020 the Canadian Women’s Foundation introduced a continuous hand gesture to help victims nonverbally alert friends or family members that they need help.

In some instances that can mean life or death.

Haden adds if there’s a gun in the household the chances of death skyrocket.

“The likelihood of the victim being shot and killed increases by 500% so it’s incredibly dangerous, it’s tempting fate,” she said.

Likewise, keeping children and pets safe is also important.

“Everyone in there suffers so kids are always the collateral damage of this,” she said.

The YWCA’s hotline number is (304) 340-3549.

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