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Impacts of gun violence on women

Posted at 6:43 PM, Jul 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-25 18:43:38-04

Flowers and balloons are now in the yard of an apartment off Mission Road to remember the lives of women killed there.

A tragedy that's now bringing a greater awareness to the impacts of gun violence and domestic violence issues.

"It's a high number of women who are experiencing domestic violence who are tethered to that relationship by that firearm," said Emily Mitchem.

A Leon County gun violence assessment by National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform shows that from 2021 to 2022, almost 14% of deadly shooting victims in the county were women.

Information that some community leaders believe needs to be highlighted more.

"Women are so disproportionately affected by gun violence in domestic violence situations," said Mitchem.

Emily Mitchem knows all too well the impacts of gun violence on women. She's the Executive Director of Refuge House, providing a safe place and resources for domestic and sexual violence victims in Leon County and surrounding communities in the big bend.

Sunday night two women were killed at the Mission Hills apartment complex in Tallahassee. Police say the suspect, a man, killed himself afterwards. While police have not connected the shooting to domestic violence, those deaths are raising awareness about the issue many women still face.

"The gun issue in our community is very significant and domestic violence needs to be included in those conversations because again the two just can't be separated," said Mitchem. "They go hand in hand."

Mitchem said that a gun is often times the reason people stay in an unsafe situation.

"We hear everyday on our hotline the stories from victims who say I want to walk out the door but I know there's a gun sitting on his dresser," said Mitchem. "I want to walk out the door but I know there's a gun sitting in his dresser. I want to go here but I know he's got the gun on me."

Refuge House is having to turn away around 100 people each month at their two emergency shelters.

They're working with organizations like Domestic Violence Coordinating Council to help get ahead of the problem by providing more educational resources.

Executive Director Kelly O'Rourke said people involved in these violent situations are no stranger to the dangers involved.

"A lot of times people who are exposed to violence early they use it themselves," said O'Rourke. "It becomes a cycle of violence and they say hurt people hurt people so abusers tend to become abusers."

In an effort to break that cycle, they're working to educate teenagers on warning signs and what to do if they're in an unsafe situation.

"We want to cut this off in the beginning," said O'Rourke. "Give them better skills for communication, relationships whether its boyfriends and girlfriends or family members and find other ways to solve issues besides turning to violence."

As we see an increase in domestic violence locally we want to make sure you have these numbers to get you the help and resources you need. The local domestic violence number is (850) 681-2111.