The Virginia shooter had a history of domestic violence. That's tragically ordinary.

The shooting at a GOP congressional baseball practice on June 14 was allegedly carried out by a man with a history of violence.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Specifically, violence against women.

Alleged shooter James T. Hodgkinson reportedly dragged his daughter out of a neighbor's house by her hair in 2006, according to The Washington Post. When she attempted to flee in a car, Hodgkinson broke in and attempted to cut her out of her seatbelt with a pocket knife.


This isn't extraordinary. In fact, it's tragically ordinary.

A 2015 New York Times report found that in 57% of mass shootings, current or former intimate partners or family members of the shooter were among the victims.

In incidents that don't involve partners or family — like in the recent attack on the Republican congressmen — the killer still frequently has a history of assault against a female partner or family member.

The kind of mass violence that devastates whole communities and rips apart the lives of strangers often begins at home. For the perpetrators of 12 of the most high-profile mass attacks between 2012 and 2017 around the globe, women were their first victims.

1. Esteban Santiago, who killed five at the Fort Lauderdale airport, was arrested the previous year for hitting and strangling his girlfriend.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

"Santiago verbally assaulted his then girlfriend, a 40-year old mother of one child from a previous marriage whom The Daily Beast is not naming, through a locked bathroom door, telling her to 'Get the fuck out, bitch.' After he forced his way in by breaking down the door, he smacked her in the head and strangled her." — The Daily Beast, Jan. 7, 2017

2. Omar Mateen, the Pulse nightclub shooter, allegedly attacked his wife numerous times, which prompted her to flee and file for divorce.

Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images.

In Sitora Yusufiy's own words: "Once, he woke up to find me on the phone with my cousin and started kicking me. He threatened to kill me if I left him. Another time, I was asleep in front of the TV when he pulled me up by the hair and started slapping me, and then choking me until I gasped for air. He claimed it was because I hadn't done the laundry." Marie Claire, Sept. 26, 2016

3. Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who murdered 86 people with a truck at a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France, had been accused of spousal abuse.

Photo by Valery Hache/Getty Images.

"A woman who knows the family told the BBC Lahouaiej-Bouhlel had been thrown out of their home in the Le Ray area of Nice more than a year ago after allegedly beating his wife." — BBC, Aug. 19, 2016

4. Dallas cop-killer Micah Johnson was, allegedly, a serial harasser of fellow soldiers while in the military.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

"Superiors of Johnson accused the deceased murderer of 'egregious sexual harassment,' while he was serving deployment in Afghanistan. They recommended he receive a dishonorable discharge, but for reasons unknown to them, he left the military with an honorable discharge." — Salon, July 16, 2016

5. Cedric Ford, who killed three of his co-workers at a Kansas lawnmower factory in 2016, had recently been served a domestic violence order.

"The order, posted by the Wichita Eagle on its website, was sought by an unidentified woman who had been living with Ford and said he had been physically abusive. She wrote in the order that he was alcoholic, violent, depressed and in need of medical and psychological help." — Reuters, Feb. 27, 2016

6. Robert Lewis Dear, who murdered three outside a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, was accused of abuse by two of his ex-wives and had been arrested and accused of rape.

Image by Handout/Getty Images.

"In the divorce papers, Micheau said Dear threw her around a room by her hair on one occasion and beat her head against the ground. In the affidavit, she said Dear 'erupts into fury in a matter of seconds,' and that she 'lived in fear and dread of his emotional and physical abuse.'" The Washington Post, Dec. 1, 2015

7. John Houser, who killed two women at a screening of "Trainwreck" in 2015, was accused of "acts of family violence" by his wife, daughter, and others.

Photo by Yuri Gripas/Getty Images.

"Among those listed as wanting protection from Houser were his daughter's fiancé and future in-laws, as well as his wife's aunt. At the time, Houser's wife, Kellie, told police she was so concerned about his propensity for violence that she removed all the guns and weapons from their home." — CBS News, July 24, 2015

8. Ismaaiyl Brinsley first shot his ex-girlfriend before shooting and killing two New York police officers in 2014.

Photo by Jewel Samad/Getty Images.

"Baltimore County Police responded to a call at Brinsley's ex-girlfriend's home in the Baltimore suburb of Owings Mills, Maryland around 5:48 a.m. on Saturday. Brinsley had shot the 29-year-old woman in the stomach and fled, cops said." — CBS News, Dec. 21, 2014

9. Man Haron Monis, who took hostages in a deadly 2014 standoff in Sydney, Australia, had been charged with sexual assault dozens of times.

Photo by Daniel Munoz/Getty Images.

"A 27-year-old woman complained to police that she had been sexually assaulted by Monis, after attending 'spiritual healing sessions' in response to an advertisement placed in newspapers aimed at the Fijian-Indian, Macedonian, Spanish and Chinese communities." — Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 16, 2014

10. Isla Vista killer Elliot Rodger wrote in his diary about splashing hot coffee on women who didn't pay enough attention to him.

Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images.

"Rodger wrote that he splashed two 'hot blonde girls' with his Starbucks latte at an Isla Vista bus stop after they 'didn't even deign to smile back' after he smiled at them." — CNN, May 27, 2014

12. Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was arrested for domestic violence four years before the attack.

Photo by Stan Honda/Getty Images.

"Police responding to the distress call said they arrived to find the couple in a car in front of the house. The officers say they approached Tsarnaev, who stepped out of the vehicle and told them the woman had been 'yelling at him because of another girl.' 'I asked the suspect if he had hit the victim, and he said "Yes, I slapped her,"' the Cambridge officer wrote in the report." — ABC News, April 22, 2013

12. Before killing three of his wife's co-workers in Wisconsin in 2012, Radcliffe Franklin Haughton had been exhibiting violent and controlling behavior toward his wife.

"A man suspected of opening fire at a Wisconsin salon where his wife worked, killing three women and wounding four others, had a history of domestic abuse and had been arrested for slashing his wife's tires a few weeks earlier, police said." — San Diego Union-Tribune, Oct. 22, 2012

It's time to take domestic violence seriously — both as a public and social health crisis.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Attacks on intimate partners and family members have a nasty habit of leading to much, much worse.

In an age where mass shootings and terror attacks are proliferating, encourage your lawmakers and local law enforcement to enforce prohibitions against those convicted of domestic violence owning deadly firearms.

If someone you know is being abused, it may not benefit them to go to the police right away. Instead, experts recommend, ask the victim what they need, keep a journal of events, and when the time is right, help them create a safety plan where you can communicate discreetly.

You can also reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help.

It might just save more than one life.

Correction 6/16/2017: The original share image for this post included a photograph of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, not Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The image has been updated to include a picture of Esteban Santiago in its place.

Since his first hit single "Keep Your Head Up" in 2011, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer has made a name for himself as the king of the feel-good anthem. From "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)" to "Honey, I'm Good" to "Back Home" and more, his positive, upbeat songs have blared on beaches and at backyard barbecues every summer.

So what does a singer who loves to perform in front of live audiences and is known for uplifting music do during an unexpectedly challenging year of global pandemic lockdown?

He goes inward.

Grammer told Upworthy that losing the ability to perform during the pandemic forced him to look at where his self-worth came from. "I thought I would have scored better, to be honest," he says. "Like, 'Oh, I get it from all the important, right places!' And then it's taken all away in one moment, and you're like, 'Oh, nope, I was getting a lot from that.'

"It's kind of cool to break all the way down and then hopefully put myself back together in a way that's a little more solid," he says.

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Since his first hit single "Keep Your Head Up" in 2011, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer has made a name for himself as the king of the feel-good anthem. From "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)" to "Honey, I'm Good" to "Back Home" and more, his positive, upbeat songs have blared on beaches and at backyard barbecues every summer.

So what does a singer who loves to perform in front of live audiences and is known for uplifting music do during an unexpectedly challenging year of global pandemic lockdown?

He goes inward.

Grammer told Upworthy that losing the ability to perform during the pandemic forced him to look at where his self-worth came from. "I thought I would have scored better, to be honest," he says. "Like, 'Oh, I get it from all the important, right places!' And then it's taken all away in one moment, and you're like, 'Oh, nope, I was getting a lot from that.'

"It's kind of cool to break all the way down and then hopefully put myself back together in a way that's a little more solid," he says.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."