The Shooting in Brookfield, Wisconsin and Domestic Violence

An image with lots of words - a word cloud - with "Domestic Violence" the largest in the middle. Other words: Abuse, criminal, spousal, physical, social, victims

Note: as the title suggests, this post is about domestic violence.


When I read the breaking news that there was a shooting in Wisconsin today at a spa, I assumed that we would eventually find out that it was a man going after his girlfriend or wife.

From NBC News:

A man who was ordered last week to turn over all his weapons in a domestic dispute opened fire Sunday at his estranged wife’s workplace near Milwaukee, killing three women and injuring four others, authorities said. He then apparently shot himself to death, police said.

His wife was one of his victims today. Her name was Zina Haughton.

It is ridiculous — RIDICULOUS — that we live in a society where it’s a good guess that a shooting in a place often frequented by women is going to be an extension of a “domestic dispute.” Anastasia Shields pointed out to me that just two days ago in Casselberry, Florida, a man killed three women at a beauty salon in what the police are calling “part of a domestic dispute.” A few years ago, about a mile from my home, a man walked up to his ex-girlfriend in the parking lot of her office as she was walking into work and shot her point blank, killing her immediately. I think about her every time I drive past there, which is almost daily.

And a statistic that will never cease to blow my mind and break my heart: “Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner.” [note: statistics for domestic violence vary widely based on race, class, sexuality, gender identity, and age]

This is incredibly sad. As Cecilia Grant wrote to me tonight, “It hurts to think that this woman did exactly what she was supposed to; reported it; filled out paperwork, and it made NO difference.” People currently in domestic violence or abuse situations watch the system fail other people and they see how severe the outcome is.

This is all at a time when Republicans in the House (vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan being one of them, ahem) are blocking the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) because it’s too comprehensive and inclusive. Zerlina Maxwell at Feministing:

While you were out living life, the Violence Against Women Act expired. For a year now, the infrastructure put in place and sustained by the 1994 landmark legislation has been in flux, leaving the future uncertain. The law was reauthorized without incident in 2000 and 2005 but this year helping victims of rape and domestic violence has become a partisan issue. Essentially, House Republicans have held up the renewal of the law because they don’t think all rape victims deserve help.

House Republicans are still blocking the reauthorization, which passed the Senate this spring, because of added protections and services for LGBT, Native American, and immigrant abuse victims.

Any politician who votes against the VAWA should feel great shame, especially in the face of the lived everyday reality of victims of domestic violence like Zina Haughton. She knew he was dangerous. She was probably living in great fear.

My heart goes out to Haughton and her family, to the other victims of this shooting, and to all people living in domestic situations that are violent or abusive.


October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For more, Misty Clifton has an important and comprehensive post at Shakesville.

For more on the shootings in Wisconsin, see Angus Johnston’s post at Student Activism, which he has been updating as new information is released.

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