We are sharing statistics regarding domestic violence and intimate partner violence involving guns, but it is always important to remember that these statistics represent real human beings. We take action to honor them and reduce the number of people impacted by these issues.
A Dangerous Gap in Wisconsin Law
Wisconsin does not have a domestic violence misdemeanor law. Instead, a person in Wisconsin who committed a misdemeanor act of domestic violence is charged under a different state statute, such as disorderly conduct.1
Unfortunately, in 2022, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that domestic violence-related disorderly conduct convictions are not the same as federally-defined misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.
That means that a person in Wisconsin convicted of disorderly conduct – even when the crime was clearly an act of domestic violence – is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm or acquiring a concealed carry permit.2 WAVE is determined to make families in Wisconsin safer by convincing our state legislators to close this gap.
Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S.
- 4.5 million women alive today (2018) have been threatened with a gun by an intimate partner.3
- More than half of all intimate partner homicides are committed with a gun.4
- A woman in an abusive relationship is five times as likely to be killed if her abuser has access to a gun.5
- States that require people to surrender their firearms if they are subject to an intimate partner violence-related restraining order have a 14% lower intimate partner homicide rate than states that do not.6
- On average, 70 women each month are shot and killed by an intimate partner.7
- A Black woman is more than twice as likely as a white woman to be murdered by an intimate partner with a firearm.8
- Gay and bisexual people experience intimate partner violence at rates equal to or higher than heterosexual people.9
- One study published by the American Public Health Association determined that transgender people are 1.7 times more likely to experience intimate partner violence than cisgender individuals.10
- The single greatest predictor of violent acts is a history of violent or aggressive acts, including domestic violence.11
Domestic Violence in Wisconsin
- In 2020, over a third of perpetrators in Wisconsin who committed a domestic violence homicide with a gun were legally prohibited from possessing a firearm.12
- Between 2000 and 2020, there was a 62% increase in intimate partner homicides in Wisconsin, with numbers generally increasing throughout that period.13
- In 2020, Wisconsin ranked 8th in the country in the number of women murdered by men.14
- Between 2021 and 2022, there was a 20% increase in the number of domestic violence homicides in Wisconsin.15
- In 2022, 88.5% of all domestic violence homicides in Wisconsin were committed with a gun.16
Protective Orders in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, a victim of domestic violence can petition a court to get a restraining order.
- If only the victim is present at the hearing, the abuser may be subject to a temporary domestic violence restraining order (ex parte protective order), which does not automatically require abusers to surrender their firearms.17
- If the victim and abuser are both present, the abuser may be subject to a domestic abuse injunction (final protective order), which requires the abuser to surrender their firearms within 48 hours.18
- Require immediate removal of firearms from subjects of both temporary and final protective orders. Victims are at the greatest risk during this period, just after they report their abuser.
- Pass a state domestic violence misdemeanor law aligned with the federal law, and convict domestic abusers under that law. This would prohibit the abuser from possessing guns.
- Require universal background checks on all gun sales to ensure that domestic abusers cannot easily acquire new firearms.
A note about terms
According to the CDC, intimate partner violence (IPV) is abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship. “Intimate partner” refers to both current and former spouses and dating partners, as well as people who have a child together. People of all genders can be both victims and perpetrators of intimate partner violence.
Wisconsin defines domestic abuse very inclusively; it may be between current or former intimate partners of any gender, current or former roommates, or an adult caregiver and any adult they care for. Many people use the terms domestic violence and intimate partner violence interchangeably, but intimate but intimate partner violence does not include roommate or adult caregiver relationships.
Henry had so many dreams and plans for the future. He wanted to become a musician and a video game designer and would have made these dreams come true. He could enter a room and brighten it with his smile, attitude, or just his presence. He made friends so easily and was true to each and every one of them. He supported them, guided them. What Henry brought to his friends, he also brought to the world: compassion for the vulnerable, weak, young, and old. Henry had a special sensitivity to the needs of others and helped in the gentlest ways.
But Henry’s father, a former police officer, owned multiple firearms and was psychologically and emotionally abusive to Henry. Henry was hurting inside but felt he could not tell anyone what his father was doing without causing conflict and getting his father more upset. My son went from being a healthy, active, sixteen-year-old boy to being killed by his father.
I will be a voice for my son. In honor of Henry, I will work tirelessly to raise awareness about domestic violence, share his story, and advocate for laws to disarm domestic abusers.
If Henry’s story moves you, sign the petition to demand that Wisconsin lawmakers pass an extreme risk law.
There are many resources dedicated to helping victims and survivors of domestic violence. If you or someone you know is in a situation involving domestic violence, these organizations can help.
Please note, using these links may cause them to show up in your browser history.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233
- We Are Here MKE
- End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (608) 255-0539
- Sojourner Family Peace Center 24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline Call: (414) 933-2722 Text: (414) 877-8100
- Helping Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Assault
- The Women’s Center