Many of the recent mass shootings had different victims, different motives, but one link..domestic violence.
Devin Patrick Kelley, Sutherland Springs church shooter, court martialed from the Army for Domestic Violence.
Omar Mateen, Orlando Pulse nightclub shooter. His wife says he physically and mentally abused her for years.
James Fields, the man who drove a car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, threatened and hit his own mother on more than one occasion.
“They already have a propensity for violence and access to handguns, that is just a toxic deadly mix,” said Cheryl Branch, Executive Director of Safe Shelter.
In her 22 years dealing with domestic violence victims, including 12 at Safe Shelter, Cheryl Branch has seen thousands of victims, and hundreds of abusers..
“1 in 5 of the clients we see tell us that their abuser has some form of mental illness and won’t take the medication,” said Branch. But she adds, they will self-medicate in other ways. “The mental illness, you don’t know whether its bipolar, schizophrenic, and then you add the alcohol for courage. ”
Statistics show that 1 in 6 spree shooters like in Texas have a history of domestic abuse. Many were victims themselves, or dealing with self-esteem, control, or mental issues.
“When someone gets into the sick dark obssessive thinking, thats somebody that has real potential for some serious violence.”
Advocates can petition a Judge to make an abuser turn over their weapons. but Branch knows that may only delay the problems, and potential violence.
“The most dangerous time is when a client chooses to leave,” said Branch. “And thats when you tend to see abusers spiralliin out of control, trying to regain that control, and oftentimes its ultimately, I have to kill her.”
Which is why experts believe protection starts in one place, with one person, the victim themselves.
“Nobody should be afraid to go home, thats your safety zone. If you are, then you really need to think about who am I foolin. Why am i doing this. I need to pick up the phone and call,” said Branch.
Safe Shelter has a 24 hour crisis line for any victim who wants to call and talk about their issues, or get help.
That number is (912) 629-8888