Killing Us Loudly for

Stigma Fighters, Vol. 4

Heydon Hensley

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Content Warnings: domestic violence, gun violence, suicide

It may seem strange having an essay dedicated to domestic violence in this anthology, but even the briefest reflection reveals that domestic violence is – of course – surrounded in stigma. Unfortunately, the stigma and shame is all too often placed at the feet of those being terrorized in their own homes. Thankfully there is a reason to hope that this is changing. With the powerful sea change that #MeToo has brought along, powerful men are being held accountable by civil institutions and social pressure, since the criminal justice system seems unable or unwilling to do so.

The work of getting people who cause harm out of positions of power and influence is far from over, however. In a scene like those that play out across every community, J.K. Rowling and other powerful women have come to bat for the abusive Johnny Depp. The Rowling/Depp example is not unique, but it is cogent due to its public nature. Society still values the reputations of men over the literal lives of women and children.

Perhaps you think this pronouncement melodramatic or – ignoring the tone-deafness of the word – “hysterical.” Even a cursory glance at the statistics on domestic violence shows that domestic violence is a clear and present danger not only to those being directly terrorized and controlled but to society at large.

Roughly half of all women murdered are killed by their intimate partners or family members (UNODC, 2013). In the United States alone, 10,470 women were murdered by their intimate partners during the period from 2002 to 2010. To put that into perspective, that’s more than all the American soldiers killed in wars since 2001.

That staggering amount of death is bad enough, but the true death toll due to domestic violence is substantially higher than that. To get a full tally of the damage done by people who abuse, you have to include deaths from injuries that never get treated—two-thirds of DV survivors are prevented from getting medical treatment for their injuries (NCADV, 2018). Then factor in a strong link between domestic terror/mass shootings and domestic violence—50+% of mass shooters started out by killing intimate partners or family members (NPR, 2017). Then there are the folks who lost hope or chose to take their death into their own hands via suicide. Not to mention the staggering number of survivors who develop substance use disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder – all of which are further risk factors for suicide or accidental death.

In the end it’s unlikely that we can truly pinpoint just how many lives are ended by people who choose to abuse. But there are a lot of things that we do know: roughly one-in-three women and one-in-four men have been victims of physical violence by intimate partners, one-in-four women and one-in-seven men have survived severe physical violence at the hands of their intimate partners, the mere presence of a gun increases the risk of homicide by 5 times, emotionally abusive partners can escalate straight to homicide when the survivor tries to leave (N.B.: The most dangerous time of an abusive relationship is when the survivor leaves).

All this harm adds up; domestic violence costs the US $8.3 Billion per year (CAEPV, 2018).

However, I do have some good news that I want to leave you with. You – yes, YOU – have the power to help make domestic violence a thing of the past.

The first step of any form of allyship or advocacy is self-education. Learn about domestic violence and how to spot abusive people. has a plethora of great essays and tools for learning just that. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence ( has FAQs and quick reference sheets for most of the basics for responding to and recognizing domestic violence.

If you’re a college student or live near a university, many institutions have violence prevention offices that can train you in how to be a good bystander. Programs like Green Dot which teach you how to defuse situations before they escalate to violence or how to help a brother or sister out of a tight spot.

The single most impactful thing you can do is make sure you know who you’re voting for. What’s their record on the Violence Against Women Act? Do they want to block gun reform aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of abusers? On the Federal level, is a great tool for looking up your representatives and their voting records. This takes time, but your efforts will literally save lives. Bonus, with the batshit banana soup presidency that is 2016-2020 you’re probably already paying closer attention to your representatives! A quicker way to know someone’s voting record is to run for office yourself.

For state and local efforts, call your local coalition against domestic violence. has a large listing of domestic violence organizations as well as tons of useful essays and fact sheets about domestic violence and how to help those in your life who are being abused—and there are people you know who are or have been abused.

If you can volunteer to make a difference in the lives of individuals, contact your local domestic violence shelter or hotline. They’re almost always in need of more volunteers to field calls or do data entry or be on their board. Not only will you be making a tangible difference within your community, you will usually get some in-depth training on the dynamics of abuse, how to safety plan with survivors, and how to talk with friends and colleagues who may not understand how serious domestic violence is.

I understand that this is some heavy material. Believe me, I get that, but we both know that you wouldn’t be reading this anthology if you didn’t have the drive to make the world a kinder, better place. As grim as the statistics are, getting involved in these issues will show you the resiliency and power of the human spirit as survivors open up to you. You’ll see hope in the lives of people who broke cycles of abuse and chose a new way—shout out to my dad and other bad assingly kind men like Terry Crews and Tony Porter. The work of making a kinder world starts with you.

You don’t have to do everything, but everyone has to do something.


If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or would like resources for recovering from abuse, please call the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 TTY.

Visit to learn more

Works Cited

Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence. (n.d.). Financial Costs. In CAEPV. Retrieved from


Fulton, A. (2017, November 7). In Texas and Beyond, Mass Shootings Have Roots in Domestic Violence. In National Public Radio.

Retrieved July 20, 2018, from


National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Statistics. In Retrieved July 20, 2018, from


United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2013). Interpersonal Homicide. In Global Study on Homicide 2013 (pp. 49-57). Retrieved









Heydon works as a Survivor Advocate in Moscow, ID, and spends his free time writing – whether it’s for Dungeons and Dragons, his intersectional feminist writing group, a writing course, or just to improve his craft. He lives with his partner, who has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, and his two dogs, who do not.
He was officially diagnosed with depression at 17 and ADHD at 26 but has struggled with both his whole life.

Heydon can be found on his blog and Facebook.

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