You asked your boyfriend to leave and he is moving out of your home today. He is carrying his clothes out to his car just after noon when he threatens you. He grabs your head and headbutts you. He grabs your neck and chokes you. You fight your way free and run.
You run to your bedroom to get your firearm. You turn and shoot your attacker who has followed you. Now your attacker stops. You back up and call 911.
Police and EMTs arrive a few minutes later. Emergency Medical Services declares your attacker dead at the scene. Police said there were also two small children in the home.
This woman took a number of steps to save her life. She recognized a problem and asked her boyfriend to move out of her home. She owned a firearm for self-defense. When he attacked her, she fought back and stopped her attacker from strangling her even though she had been hit in the head moments before. She retreated to get away from her attacker and to get her firearm. She used her firearm when her attacker again closed the distance between them. She defended herself to stop the next attack. She called 911 and made a statement to the police.
Some of those actions may have taken place days ago. During this attack, our defender did a lot of good in very little time.
There are a number of things we don’t know from the news report. We don’t know if there was an existing pattern of domestic abuse between the defender and her attacker. We don’t know if the male was related to the children in the home. We do know that domestic violence has increased dramatically after so many businesses closed during the Covid lockdown.
Distance is our first defense. That means the best defense is to stay away from our attacker. This is particularly true for women. Adult males are stronger than adult females 9-out-of-10 times. That gives men an advantage in a close-quarters hand-to-hand fight. Our defender may have had hand-to-hand skills, or perhaps she was lucky she could escape her attacker as he choked her. The fact that her ex-boyfriend pursued her as she ran again established that he was the attacker in this case.
At the time of this attack, Texas required a license to carry a concealed firearm in public. The state does not require a license to carry concealed in our home or on our property. Being armed is not a perfect guarantee that we’ll win this fight. We might not have time to get to our concealed firearm when someone has their hands around our throat. We’ll have more time if we draw our firearm when the attacker first closes the distance after he was told to stay back.
Yes, we’re glad she was armed, but having a gun in a nightstand drawer is not safe if there are children in the home. That is another reason to carry concealed when we’re out of bed. Consider using a small bedside gun safe when you’re asleep.
Drawing and shooting a gun is a skill. Retaining our firearm at a hand-to-hand distance is an added difficulty. You won’t have time to learn how to clear your jacket and get a grip on your gun when there are hands around your throat. Even with those difficulties, you’d rather be armed than not. Practice makes us consistent and reliable.
New gun owners often say they will only carry a gun when they expect a problem. I wonder how they will know in advance that there is going to be a problem later. A better solution is to avoid the problem in the first place. In hindsight, this defender probably wishes she was carrying concealed, if not somewhere else entirely. She isn’t alone.
From one to three million cases of domestic violence are reported each year. That is a conservative estimate since many incidents are not reported to the police. We know that the severity of domestic abuse usually increases over time. The old attack becomes the new normal unless the cycle of violence is broken. We also know that the relationship becomes more violent immediately after the victim separates from the abuser. This particular story is another sad example. Separating from the abuser is the only way to stop the cycle of violence, but it may not be enough to prevent an attack.
There is emotional shame and regret attached to asking for help when you’re threatened by an intimate partner. That often leads to the victim remaining silent at exactly the time when they need to ask for help. Every firearms instructor and counselor I know says the same thing: ask for help from your boss, your neighbors, your relatives, and your friends. Physical presence is the first layer of deterrence, and several large witnesses might have stopped this attack before it started. In hindsight, even hiring a private bodyguard would have been worth it to avoid this attack.
Establish the trail of legal evidence as early as you can. Call the police if you’ve been attacked. Get a restraining order and renew it if the problem persists. That may not prevent the next attack, but it makes it considerably easier for peace officers to arrest your attacker. It may also make it easier as you separate your property from your abuser’s. Even with that trail laid beforehand, you still need a lawyer to prepare your statement for the police after an attack like this one.
There are often psychological scars from domestic abuse. As is true for most armed defense, the first tool is our mindset. We are responsible for our defense and the defense of those we love. Remember what the story mentioned almost in passing.. there were two small children in the home.
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