San Bernardino April 10, 2017: An estranged husband enters his separated wife’s school where she is a special needs teacher, goes to her classroom and immediately opens fire on her using a “large-caliber revolver*”. The wife was the intended target, sadly however, two young children were also injured, one of which later died at the hospital.
A few years back a town just down the road from where I live experienced a similar event. A woman who was in fear for her life from an abusive boyfriend ended the relationship. He went to her place of work ( a place he knew she would be) and shot her multiple times with a shotgun, her fears were justified. These events are truly tragic on multiple levels and yet, not that uncommon…
We are going to look at this from two angles. First from a avoiding a dangerous person angle, next a “how does this effect me” angle. It is hugely important that when dating and interacting with the What general populace that you are aware of some common and easily recognizable warning signs to a dangerous or potentially dangerous person. Disclaimer: Just because someone exhibits one or more of these behaviors, it does not mean that they are dangerous, they may just be nosy. Warning signs are just that, signs. However, you can begin to see the image when you start putting puzzle pieces together.
One of the easiest and most recognizable signs is over inquisitiveness. If someone is asking too many questions, or out-of-place questions that should send red flags, especially if they are not offering any information themselves. For example: Where do you work, what time do you get off, do you carpool, do you live alone, etc. Those are obvious, but the smart ones are subtle in gathering this information. They may ask: What do you do? Oh, nice, a 9-5 Mon-Fri job huh? A subtle and innocuous way of gathering personal information they don’t need.
The other sign we are going to discuss is control. If someone is trying to control you in any way you need to pay close attention for other signs! While some control may be overt, this does not typically come until the relationship has some time on. Not letting you leave, controlling all of the money, controlling friends, etc are all overt. Some of the covert methods they use early on are harder to see, but there none the less. Try texting a friend in their presence ignore them, and laugh a lot. If they keep asking questions about who it is, what you are talking about, what’s so funny, or something along those lines, pay attention! All the more so if they seem serious or bothered at all by the test.
The second angle is “how does this effect me?”. Well, read the opening story again. An 8-year-old that was not targeted was killed and another seriously wounded. Have you figured it out yet? Collateral damage… If you are in the area of a domestic event, you may be in danger. If a co-worker is separated from a potentially dangerous subject, take heed. The worst part is, you may not even know it. People all around us, including our coworkers and friends may not share those kinds of things with us. This is one reason I think you should take time to invest in your friends, but I digress.
This topic is two-fold and overlapping. Not only preventative but also reactionary. If you can recognize danger signs and avoid the threat, do it! Sometimes we find ourselves around those who did not see the warning signs, or walking through an area with a domestic event in progress. Either way we need to be prepared to protect ourselves in a proportionate way against the threat.
What can we learn?
- You do not have to be the target of an event to be a victim
- Domestic Overflow is real, and can be dangerous
- Work, recreation, public, etc are all venues that domestic overflow can happen
- Know what the warning signs are, and look for them, it is a passive process and simple
- What are you doing in the life of those around you to stay plugged in and help them
- If you are taking care of a friend and “one-anothering” you will likely know something is going on and can help them through it, including help keep them safe.