Ex-wife of D.C. sniper raising awareness of connection between mass shooting and domestic violence

Mildred Muhammad, the ex-wife of the DC Sniper, sat down with Breakfast Television’s Tammie Sutherland and spoke about intimate partner violence and the link to mass shootings in society.

By Tammie Sutherland

Mildred Muhammad escaped a years-long abusive relationship with her ex-husband John Huhammad before he became notoriously known as the D.C. sniper.

The gunman was behind the random shooting deaths of 17 people in the Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2002.

“Law enforcement didn’t tell the public that I was the intended target. Although the theory was that he was killing innocent people to cover up murder so he could come in as the grieving father and gain custody of our children … a domestic violence child custody issue,” said Muhammad.

Now, Muhammad is raising awareness of the connection between domestic violence and mass shootings.

The man behind the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people was accused of repeatedly assaulting his wife before the rampage.

And an inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass shooting showed the gunman had a long history of domestic violence in his family, going back generations.

“Most mass shootings start at home with terrorizing the family and then it goes out to the community and what we have to do as a community is make sure that there are resources are available for victims of domestic violence,” explained Muhammad.

One place looking to get help to those in need is the York Centre for Community Safety, which is eliminating the need for victims to go to multiple agencies to get help.

“What we’ve done is we’ve streamlined that, come to one location and access several services, and the other piece is you don’t have to repeat your story. Each time you access multiple services, you have to repeat your story, so we’ve streamlined that as well,” shared Executive Director Jaspreet Gill.

They have also partnered with York Regional Police.

“We get approximately 6,000 intimate partner violence calls a year and that involves chocking, strangulation, assault, assault with a weapon. There’s an urgent need. More attention is needed,” said Det. Sgt. Don Yirenki.

And for those who are trying to help a loved one escape a violent situation, Muhammad said start with asking them one question: How can I help?

“Most times victims are not asked ‘How can I help you?’ They are told what to do. And the person who is giving that information is unaware that they sound like the abuser,” explained Muhammad. “I’m already hearing all of those negative things and here you are coming as my friend, my colleague, my family member saying, ‘Why don’t you just leave?’ We have to stop asking the victim why do you stay and start asking the abuser ‘Why do you abuse?’”

If you or someone you know is looking for help leaving an abusive relationship, you can find resources here.

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