Our hearts and deepest sympathies are with the grieving family, friends, and everyone affected by the horrific and hate-filled attack in Orlando this week. Today and every day, all of us at the NoVo Foundation stand in solidarity against homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia and all forms of violence and hate. Together with our partners, we work toward a world based on love, compassion and justice.
How can we prevent this from ever happening again?
That’s a question many of us are asking in the wake of the shooting. Some are even arguing that such actions are simply too random to ever predict.
But there were signs. Clear signs. And many were the same signs we’ve seen over and over again in the lead up to previous acts of violence.
Not long after news broke that Omar Mateen was responsible for the Orlando attack, his ex-wife told the media: “He was not a stable person. He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.”
There were many factors at play in this shooting, but if we ignore the role of domestic violence, we do so at our own collective peril.
As our executive director, Pamela Shifman, and co-founder of A Long Walk Home, Salamishah Tillet, argued in a New York Times opinion piece last year, there is a striking and long-established pattern: Men who are eventually arrested for violent acts often began with attacks against their girlfriends and wives. In many cases, the charges of domestic violence were not taken seriously or were dismissed.
By intervening early and stopping violence in the home, we not only ensure the safety of the women and children who are the first victims. We can also take steps to make it harder for perpetrators to go on to commit additional violence, whether inside or outside the home.
As we grapple with the tragedy and horror of the Orlando shooting, violence against girls and women, and the training it provides for future violence, must be a part of our painful search for lasting solutions.
The NoVo Foundation Team