Like most Americans, the news first came to me as an alert from whichever source one prefers to gather news from. For me, it was a Fox News alert at 12:02 pm on Sunday.
“Several people were shot at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on Sunday, police told Fox News.”
Several people? Three, ten? How many? 1:13 pm brought a little more clarity:
“At least 20 people are feared dead after a gunman opened fire at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, Fox News has learned.”
And that’s the moment when news consumption stops being digital, and you turn on CNN or Fox News to find out what is happening. That is when you begin to understand what a very small place Sutherland Springs, Texas is. I lived in that area for a very long time, specifically in New Braunfels (on the other side of San Antonio), and I had never even heard of Sutherland Springs. In any event, that is the moment you learn that 10 percent of this community’s residents are now either dead or wounded.
At 2:58 pm, the scope of the tragedy becomes more apparent:
“...up to 27 have died with ‘many more’ wounded.”
You will not find in this space any information about Sunday’s tragedy than you already know; nor will you find takes about the merits (or lack thereof), of “gun control.” Hopefully what you will find here as you read is a space wherein to capture and compartmentalize our collective grief. An event as horrific as this will take months, years, even decades to cope with; for the victims’ families, their timelines of grief have only just begun.
We know that many of the people killed yesterday were children, some of whom were found underneath their dead parents who had tried to shield their little bodies from the large-caliber rounds. We know that the killer was a disturbed individual with a history of domestic violence. I do not talk about this publicly because it’s not important, but almost all of my volunteer efforts are done on behalf of my local domestic violence shelter. I see, on a day-to-day basis, how domestic violence begins, progresses, stops, or sometimes ends in tragedy. The signs were there: threatening text messages, the changing of a social media profile picture, the potential for mental collapse by the killer. The signs were all there. So in the autopsy of this event, the debate will rage over mental health, gun control, etc., but do not for a moment forget that at its root this killing, this horrific slaughter, began with domestic violence.
The world is an unspeakably sad place. For Americans, our nation’s grief ebbs and flows around tragedies like this, where people seek to assuage their feelings with the need to understand why this happened and then “do something” because “something must be done.”
Something must be done, indeed. Take a moment to find the name and emergency number of your nearest domestic violence shelter and store it in your phone. Learn to spot the signs of domestic abuse: bruises, calling in “sick,” when you know they are not, cowering at raised voices. And then have the courage, when you spot these signs, to act. Encourage the woman (it is almost always a woman) to begin the process of accepting help in a situation that is already beyond her control. This conversation is best had between two women.
Men, raise your boys to respect the sanctity of women. They are not sex toys. They are not punching bags. They are not made to be yelled at after you had a bad day at work. Without coming off as preachy about it, one of those things is how 99% of domestic violence cases begin. More importantly, if there is a woman in your life who is being abused by her partner, then be a man and do something about it. Fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins… we all play a role in confronting domestic violence carried out against our female relatives.
I honestly do not know how one even begins to recover from losing as many as eight family members in one mass-killing, but I know that a nationwide “gun debate” isn’t it. Making a contribution to your local shelter in their names might be a good start.
Long live the Republic.
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.