Dangerous Liaisons: Examining the Connection of Stalking and Gun Threats Among Partner Abuse Victims

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Abstract

Little is known about the scope and nature of how guns are used to threaten (ex)partners particularly during periods of stalking, which often occurs after victims leave their abusers. This study examines survey results from over 500 women from across the United States who contacted the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Specifically, this study (a) describes the prevalence and characteristics of partner abuse victims who were and were not stalked and who were and were not threatened with guns, (b) compares types of gun threats experienced by partner abuse victims who were and were not stalked, (c) examines worries about gun threats for those who were and were not stalked among partner abuse victims not threatened with a gun, and (d) assesses factors associated with advice to obtain a gun for personal safety. This article also provides open-ended comments selected to highlight themes from the quantitative information around participant fears and worries about gun threats and stalking. Findings from this study show one-third of the participants had experienced threats with guns, and one-fifth of those without gun threats worried their (ex)partner would harm them with a gun. Furthermore, there was a significant association between stalking and gun threats, as three-fourth of those who were threatened with a gun reported being stalked. Victims who experienced stalking were also more likely to report their (ex)partner threatened others with guns and were more likely to carry a firearm on their body or in their car, which suggests stalkers who threatened with guns may pose a significant risk to public safety. Implications for future research are discussed.

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