A new Yale University study finds that nearly one in four victims of domestic violence in Connecticut are threatened by their abuser with a gun.
Yale researchers interviewed 298 women in the Greater New Haven area who were recent victims in a criminal domestic violence case involving a male intimate partner.
Of those women, 24.2 percent said they were threatened with firearm violence.
Half said they were still fearful their partners would use a firearm against them.
And nearly half reported that it would be easy for their abuser to obtain a gun if they didn't already have one.
The study also looked at the prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, among these women.
According to the report, rates of PTSD are high among women who have suffered abuse by an intimate partner, but the severity of PTSD symptoms increases dramatically when the victim is threatened with a firearm.
"A beating, or a punch, or a grab -- those things can lead to bruises, and they certainly can and do lead to death," said Tami P. Sullivan, PhD, lead author of the study and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University. "But with firearms, the potential lethality is so great. Firearm threat just is more likely to result in homicide."
Connecticut's General Assembly is considering a measure that would notify someone who is protected by a restraining or protective order whether or not their abuser has surrendered their firearms as required by law.
Sullivan said it's a critical step for the well-being of these victims.
"Feeling afraid, we know that can elevate symptoms of PTSD," she said. "So if this one piece of information can help to alleviate symptoms, and stress, and suffering, and fear, then it absolutely has to happen. I believe it's critical."
The Yale study is published online by the journal Violence and Gender.