Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) Male Violence Against Women and Public Mass Shooting Lethality (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

621P (see Poster Gallery) Male Violence Against Women and Public Mass Shooting Lethality

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Juliann Nicholson, MSW, Doctoral Candidate, Boston University, Boston, MA
Ellen DeVoe, PhD, LICSW, Professor, Boston University, Boston, MA
Varsha Kulkarni, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Boston University, MA
Background and Purpose: Among the ten deadliest shootings in U.S. history, nine were perpetrated by men with histories of violence against women. In recent years, increasing media coverage of public mass shootings has addressed the apparent connections between misogyny, including male violence against women (MVAW), and public mass shooting lethality in America. However, few empirical studies have examined these links. To address this knowledge gap, the current study aimed to examine the relationships between public mass shooting perpetrators’ histories of MVAW and the lethality of their attacks.

Methods: Drawing on The Violence Project Database of Mass Shootings in the U.S. and open-source data, the current study first investigated the lifetime perpetration of gender-based violence (GBV) among 178 perpetrators of U.S. public mass shootings from 1966 to 2021. All perpetrators with identified GBV histories were men who had perpetrated violence against women. For this study, MVAW included intimate partner violence, sexual offenses, stalking and harassment, domestic violence against female family members, and misogynous ideation. Next, chi-square analyses were used to compare the detailed MVAW histories of high-fatality perpetrators (i.e., those who killed eight or more individuals during their shooting attacks) and other perpetrators. Finally, we employed negative binomial regression to examine the possible association between perpetrator MVAW history and number of mass shooting fatalities, controlling for relevant perpetrator and incident characteristics.

Results: We identified seventy-seven perpetrators (43.3% of the total sample) with known histories of MVAW perpetration. Bivariate analyses indicated that high-fatality attackers, compared with other attackers, were significantly more likely to have histories of any MVAW (63.4% vs. 37.2%, χ2=8.8), of domestic violence against a female family member (22.0% vs. 5.1%, χ2=10.9), of misogynous ideation (22.0%, vs. 2.2%, χ2=19.6), and of multiple types of MVAW (26.8%, vs. 7.3%, χ2=14.1). Our negative binomial model showed that, controlling for individual and incident characteristics, perpetrator MVAW history was significantly associated with a 34% increase in shooting fatalities (α=0.5, SE=0.11). Other characteristics found to be significantly associated with shooting fatalities, after controlling for covariates, were occurrence after 2010, perpetrator suicide, the presence of an assault rifle or submachine gun, and the number of guns present.

Conclusions and Implications: Taken together, our study’s results suggest profound links between MVAW and public mass shooting severity, and underscore the critical importance of MVAW prevention in the U.S. Findings highlight the need for collaboration across social work and other professional domains, to be able to effectively identify individuals at high risk for inflicting harm. They also suggest the importance of accounting for MVAW and firearms access as part of risk assessments. This study adds to accumulating evidence that misogyny plays an integral role in mass violence and extremism. These links should prompt us to recognize the nature of misogyny as political, systemic, and intersectional with other forms of violence. Further research is needed to understand how MVAW interrelates with other known risk factors for mass violence, toward informing prevention.