An article, recently published Dag Bladet, one of Norway’s biggest daily newspapers, tells the story of Karin Bergsjø (56) who in 2001 was threatened with a gun by her long term partner in their home.
He, a gun enthusiast and owner of 30 licensed guns, had developed signs of mental instability and had become abusive in the previous year. When she finally told him she wanted to end their relationship he responded calmly. Then, only days later, he prepared and loaded all his guns, picked the largest one, and went upstairs to where she was sleeping.
“He wakes her up. It is Monday morning, 10 September 2001 in the bedroom of a small one bedroom house near Oslo, Norway. It is raining. ‘I have been planning to kill you for three days,’ he says. Downstairs, on the living room table, lies a Magnum 457. It has been three years since they fell in love, and now he says that he has decided to shoot her before noon.”
After spending hours with a gun pointed at her, Karin managed to escape the house, only to hear a gun shot behind her. Her long term partner had shot and killed himself.
In the following years Karin was paralysed by trauma and unable to work. She remembers looking for books by others who have experienced something equally traumatic and survived and found nothing. Her doctor told her she is the exception, that “everyone” kills their girlfriend first, and then themselves.
This case in Norway reminds us that no community is immune from the problem of domestic abuse, and the power of a gun to make it lethal. In France and South Africa, one in three women killed by their husbands is shot; in the USA this rises to two in three. Domestic shootings usually involve legal firearms, and women’s risk of being killed by an intimate partner triples when a gun is in the home. Contrary to popular belief, a gun in the home is much more likely to be used to intimidate or physically injure family members than be used against an outside intruder.
IANSA women around the world are working to highlight how gun violence affects lives and communities, and demand from governments and legislators policies and practices to protect women in the home.
The original article (in Norwegian and published on 30 April 2012) is online at: