Interface of gun violence and intimate partner violence: Survivors' narrative on social media

Grace Landram, BS, Ayush Kothari, Sahithi Lakamana, MS, Abeed Sarker, PhD and Sangmi Kim, PhD, MPH, RN
Emory University, Atlanta, GA

APHA 2023 Annual Meeting and Expo

Background: One in four women experience intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime in the U.S. The use of guns, fatally or non-fatally, is not rare in IPV. About 4.5 million people have had an intimate partner who threatened them with a gun, and nearly 1 million have been shot by an intimate partner. The consequences of gun violence (GV) in IPV can be lethal and irreversible physically and psychologically among survivors and their families. Nevertheless, this subject has been understudied, partly due to challenges in collecting actionable data related to GV in IPV. Our preliminary studies showed the enormous potential of social media data for surveillance, prevention, and intervention with IPV, as we could collect live streaming data unobtrusively, at scale, anonymously, and at low cost. Thus, this study aimed to examine the availability of information on gun use in IPV disclosed on Reddit.

Methods: Using natural language processing, we collected publicly available data from four IPV-related subreddits (e.g., /r/domesticviolence) between January 2020 and March 2021. Of 4,000 collected original posts (OPs), we extracted OPs (n = 55) containing keywords, including “gun” and “firearm.” We conducted a quantitative content analysis. Guided by a codebook, three individuals independently encoded the data and resolved the coding discrepancies through discussions. We calculated the frequency of the identified codes on gun use in IPV.

Results: In addition to general IPV experiences (i.e., timing, type/subtype of IPV, help-seeking status, and needs), survivors’ narratives included rich information regarding GV: (a) the gun ownership (e.g., type/number of guns owned or registration status), (b) who used a gun (e.g., perpetrator or victim), (c) why (e.g., threaten to commit suicide, injure/kill the partner, or self-defend), and (d) how (e.g., showing a gun, pointing a gun at, or shooting). We also found the availability of risk/protective factors for GV among survivors and perpetrators.

Conclusion: With rich data on the patterns and factors for GV in IPV, social media can be a novel way to reach out to and support survivors to prevent devastating outcomes of gun use by their perpetrators and improve survivors’ health and safety.

Public health or related nursing Public health or related research Social and behavioral sciences