Domestic Violence spurred VT shootings? Update: Red Flags

BlogHer Original Post

After I wrote this, I came across Christy Hardin Smith's excellent piece about red flags among violent and juvenile offenders. She worked with many during her legal career and noted trends. Whether the VT perpetrator was attacking a spurning lover, or if he acted our of sheer rage, it is doubtless he has some sort of personality disorder.

Worth a read...

There are certain common threads that I saw a lot in working with abuse and neglect cases, juvenile offenders and adult criminals over the years of my practice. And they were similarly identified by the psych professionals with whom I worked on a day to day basis, who provided therapy and evaluation services for us in particular cases — and in the literature about these sorts of issues and at seminars that I attended. In particular, a seminar on violent juvenile offenders that I attended — run by the OJJDP — during the time I was a prosecutor, helped to hone in on the psychological aspects and root causes, as well as to indentify certain "red flag" behaviors that are common across the board in violent incidents. These include, but are not limited to:

– Animal abuse, especially torture and physical violence of any kind.
— Arson/fire starting.
— A history of sexual abuse, either as a victim or a perpetrator.
— Anti-social/loner tendencies.
— Outbursts of anger.
— A history of bedwetting beyond young childhood range.
— Language delays, causing difficulty in comprehension or expression.
— An obsession with firearms or other explosive devices or weaponry.
— Abuse toward younger siblings or other family members.
— Violence in the home.
— Obsession with violent video games, or other violent media or literature.
— Drug and/or alcohol abuse, especially where it results in violent behavior while intoxicated.
— Truancy/delinquency issues.
— A home life that includes maltreatment, neglect and other emotional abuse issues, as well as exposure to physical abuse, to themselves or to others in the home.

This is by no means a complete list — there are a number of other factors as well, and any one or more of these factors may be present without seeing a child have issues with sociopathic or other violent behavior. But they should raise concerns for adults around that child, and should at the least say that the child needs some extra intervention to be certain that the behavior and questions raised do not spiral downward into more violent behavior. This includes aggressive mental health intervention, as well as family counseling, where appropriate, because so often mental health problems go hand in hand with a lot of the red flag problems raised above.

This morning, Women's eNews writes that early indications are that the tragic events at Virginia Tech may be connected to domestic violence. Women's eNews has a special page dedicated to providing information relevant to the issue, including links to our stories and helping organizations. Go to: http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2906/

Suzanne Reisman writes about her unconscious expectation that the VT shooting had something to do with rage against women:

Preliminary reports from some sources indicate that the killer began his rampage with a woman he may or may not have had a relationship with, and the resident assistant who came to assist her. Once again, it is a situation in which a jilted paramour turns to violence. We saw this not long ago when a husband killed his wife in a parking lot after she left him. It's a sadly common story.

It is indeed: one in three women will suffer violence from an intimate partner in her lifetime. Thankfully, very few turn into mass homicidal sprees like the one at Virginia Tech.

Finally, much has been written on this incident and Virginia's lax gun laws: in the UK. Read more here. Indeed, "What price the right to bear arms?"

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