A crowded nightclub. An airport terminal. A suburban baseball field. A first-grade classroom.

These locations might seem unrelated. Unfortunately, they are all connected for a horrific reason. Each has been the site of a recent mass shooting in America. And each time our nation mourns, we seek ways to prevent the next attack.

We have learned that domestic terrorists come from all backgrounds. They are not limited to an age range, socio-economic class or political persuasion. Census data cannot serve as a predictor.

There is one common trait shared by the majority of mass shooters in America. Most possess a history of domestic violence — which is a threat, not just to our families, but to our nation’s security.

Americans must come to recognize domestic violence as a precursor to domestic terrorism. Those who abuse their loved ones show a disregard for human life (most often women’s lives) and are prone to favor violence to solve conflict. Studies conclude that over 50 percent of mass shootings were related to domestic violence and 42 percent of shooters exhibited warning signs.   

What does that mean for you? Even if you are fortunate to live in a loving, violence-free home, abuse that occurs behind other’s closed doors is your business. Stopping domestic violence when it is first spotted may not just save one life — it may prevent mass tragedy. It may, in fact, save you and your family.

America’s multibillion dollar counterterrorism budget should include funds aimed at preventing violence in the home. There is a clear link between domestic abusers and domestic terrorists; by treating violence in the home as a precursor to violence in the streets, we will live in a safer nation.

Last year, 102 Pennsylvanians were killed in domestic violence-related incidents. One in three women and one in four men will be victims of physical abuse from their partners in their lifetimes. The abuse does not discriminate based on gender, race, age, sexual orientation, or religion. It is difficult to predict who will abuse, but there are tangible steps we can take to deter future violence.

Domestic abusers don’t stop after one episode. Stricter consequences are needed to prevent further instances — and to stop abusers before their violence expands out to the general public.

Domestic abuse is not an easy topic to discuss, but we cannot shy away from an uncomfortable conversation. By helping a neighbor, friend or family member in an abusive environment, we are not only doing the right thing — we are making the country safer.

Maria Macaluso is the executive director of the Women’s Center of Montgomery County, which provides services including a 24-hour domestic violence hotline; elder abuse counseling and supportive services, individualized peer,and group domestic violence counseling; telephone counseling, information, and referral; legal advocacy; court and hospital accompaniment; emergency relocation funding for victims of domestic violence, education, and outreach to the community and schools.