When domestic violence is deadly: Shooter kills three women at a Wisconsin salon

Just a few months after the tragedies in Aurora and Oak Creek, the latest act of mass gun violence took place outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin yesterday.

Radcliffe Haughton opened fire at the salon where his estranged wife works, killing three women and injuring four others, before turning the gun on himself. While details are still coming out, the police are already pretty sure that “this incident is domestic violence related.” Earlier this month, Haughton allegedly slashed the tires of his wife’s car. Just last week she got a restraining order against him and he was ordered to turn his weapons over to the sheriff’s department.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has a slew of horrifying stats that show how domestic violence combined with easy access to guns puts the lives of American women at risk. I was especially struck by this one: Women are more than twice as likely to be shot to death by their male intimates as they are to be shot, stabbed, strangled or killed in any other way by a stranger.

And, as Eesha thoughtfully explored after the Aurora shooting, the gendered nature of mass murder–even those that aren’t directly related to domestic violence like this one–cannot be ignored. As Bob Herbert wrote a few years ago, after George Sodini killed three women at a Pennsylvania gym, “We’ve seen this tragic ritual so often that it has the feel of a formula. A guy is filled with a seething rage toward women and has easy access to guns. The result: mass slaughter.”

Our thoughts go out to the friends and families of all the victims.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/kathrynj/ Kathryn Hyde

    As much as people like to jump in here and point out that ‘men are victims of domestic violence too’, I’d be willing to bet there are no recorded instances of a woman ‘snapping’ and murdering innocent men in this fashion.

    • http://feministing.com/members/tetesagehen/ Tae Phoenix

      It seems like the vast majority of domestic violence committed by women against men is emotional and psychological rather than physical. I’ve heard of women shooting their male partners before, but I’ve never heard a story about a woman “snapping” and murdering a defenseless, innocent guy. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened – but it is certainly rare enough not to be a pattern.

    • drahill

      Well, you’d lose your money –


    • http://feministing.com/members/aroojs/ Arooj Shah

      A basic Google search renders historical records of female mass murderers. Besides that reality, I agree with you on the bigger picture. Although men are victims of domestic violence, they are not oppressed by sexism and all it encompasses. Sexism is a patriarchal structure. Saying that men are oppressed by sexism is like saying heterosexual people are oppressed by homophobia. The oppressor cannot be the oppressed.

      • http://feministing.com/members/tkalenb/ Kalen T

        I’m afraid I would disagree that men, by mere virtue of being men, “are not oppressed by sexism and all it encompasses”. At the very least, they are not immune to experiencing it, even in spite of the privileges they possess by merely being born male. E.g. A male nurse might be passed over for a promotion because he is not seen as ‘nurturing’ enough when he possesses all the same, if not more qualifications as his female counterpart who is promoted over him. On the flip side, a female CEO might not be seen as “aggressive enough” or perceived to have “leadership qualities” even if she has all the same, if not more qualifications than a male counterpart.

        Personally, I’d venture to say that sexism is more of an expression, a symptom, of patriarchal systems rather than sexism being the root.

        I think it’s insulting to say that men can not experience sexism or be oppressed by patriarchal structures just because they largely benefit — or are supposed to, as long as men keep to manly cultural and gender scripts — from patriarchy. Patriarchy is not physically located in men. It’s located in the pervasive actions, beliefs, practices of individuals — male, female, or trans — as much as the institutions which traditionally, even currently, use policy or practice to subtly oppress/make decisions based on gender.

  • http://feministing.com/members/dcdaria/ Teesa

    This is horrendous – restraining orders may as well be no protection at all. This definitely needs to be discussed, and much more needs to be done about domestic violence, not only to protect the victims, but more study of the perpetrators who do this, and targeted education and legal ramifications. I do have to say, though, I have not been one for the gun argument. While certainly it would be quite difficult to shoot someone without a gun, some relevant points are that 1) he was ordered to turn his weapons in, 2) he had planted an explosive at the spa, and 3) he violated the restraining order – support for the argument that laws do not stop people who want to break laws. We need less bureaucracy and more actual concern on the part of the law enforcement and justice system for these victims.

    • http://feministing.com/members/flyankeegirl/ Cary

      Teesa, I agree. When I was given an injunction against my ex husband who has stalked and harassed me for the last 10 years. The man who has threatened to kill me. They up front told me that piece of paper is not going to do anything if he really wants to hurt me. And the police are no help in enforcing it. They have actually laughed me out of the police station as I was crying telling them I was afraid he was going to kill me. So I get my concealed weapons license, trained with a firearm and carry it at all times. I didn’t want to become the next victim story.