I googled “protecting yourself in your home from a loved one.” On the first page, nine out of ten results were based on protecting yourself from intruders. The tenth result was protecting yourself from an abusive guardianship in a legal matter. If 55% of femicides are a result of intimate partner violence, women should have more resources available to protect themselves.

As women, if no one else is going to show us how to protect ourselves against our number one killer, we need to find the answers ourselves. We must train for the unthinkable.

10 Steps to Prepare for Intimate Partner Violence

  • Keep your gun with you at ALL times. Keep your gun on body or within arm’s reach no matter where you are, even at home. Your gun should be readily available when you sleep, work out, take a shower, cook, etc. If a partner who you have recently separated with asks you to meet them to talk (and if you feel comfortable meeting with them), take your gun, meet in a public area, and be extra alert.
  • Have current firearms training. Shooting is a perishable skill. If you do not practice, you will lose it. Practice frequently with the gun you carry.
  • Ensure that your firearm is operational. Familiarize yourself with the mechanical features of any firearm you intend to use. Make sure that it is in working order.
  • Have the mindset that you must stop ANYONE who is attempting to kill you. You must be willing to shoot the father of your children, the man you slept with last night, a mentally ill family member, or the neighbor you have known for 20 years. If you do not pull the trigger quickly enough, they will kill you. Your life is worth defending!
  • Be aware of your situation. Ask yourself if there have been recent drastic changes in your home life, like filing for divorce, depression, excessive drinking, purchase of new firearms by your partner, or an increase in family violence and anger. All of these can be signs leading up to intimate partner violence. (Review the pre-incident indicators associated with spousal murder.)
  • Train to shoot at close distances with your gun, drawing from concealment. If your significant other is going to attack you, it will probably be in your house at close distance. Do you train to consistently draw your pistol from concealment and shoot 3 shots at center mass at 3 yards in less than 3 seconds at a human shaped target?
  • Train to protect your weapon from being taken from you. If you cannot pull the trigger in the above scenario in less than 3 seconds to stop your attacker, you will need other defensive skills to keep your weapon from being taken from you and being fatally used against you. Seek out a class in handgun retention and practice these skills frequently.
  • Train in multiple arenas. Take classes, like Krav Maga, knife fighting, and Kubotan, to develop other fighting skills in the case you do not have your firearm. Learn to fight from your back. Learn to disarm an attacker. Carry a backup weapon. Again, once you learn, make sure to keep your skills sharp by practicing.
  • Secure all weapons. If you are in a family violence situation or if you are in the midst of a break up, remove all weapons from the household (except for your carry gun which is with you at all times) and/or secure all weapons in a safe with a new combination that your partner does not know.
  • Obtain insurance. Organizations like U.S. Law Shield, USCCA, and American Citizens’ Defensive League Network provide you with support in the legal aftermath of a self-defense shooting.

Finding Training Classes

Whether it is firearms training, self-defense training, or first aid training, seek out reputable instructors and organizations. Many well-known trainers, such as Massad Ayoob, Tatiana Whitlock, and Tom Givens, will travel to your area. Check their calendars to see if they have a class scheduled near you or invite them to your city. There are also many reputable training facilities offering these types of training across the country, like KR Training and Firearms Academy of Seattle, just to name a couple. Ask people in your community that you trust, for recommendations.

Lessons Learned

Recently a friend of mine was killed in a murder-suicide by her husband. They were in the middle of what everyone thought was an amicable divorce. Not once did she ever tell her friends or her family that she had been in any way abused by her husband or that she was scared for her life or the lives of her children. In the minds of her family and friends this violent act came out of nowhere; however, research will tell us this is not the case. There were warning signs that could have saved her life had she been aware.

In hindsight, I can now see the pre-incident indicators (PINs) from my friend’s heartbreaking death. We may never know the specifics of what happened that dreadful morning behind closed doors. Did she have her gun on body? Did he take her gun from her? Did she have the opportunity to fight for her life? My hope is that the statistics will startle you, the PINs will make you acutely aware, and the training listed above will save your life.


Sandra Kozero is an NRA certified pistol and rifle instructor, along with being an NRA Level 1 Shotgun Coach. She teaches Home Firearm Safety, Personal Protection in the Home, Refuse to Be a Victim and the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program. Sandy has been shooting with the San Antonio TX Chapter of A Girl & A Gun since 2011. She also dabbles in competitive shooting. She is not only the San Antonio Chapter Facilitator, but she also serves as an AG & AG National Regional Director. Tracy Thronburg assisted with this article.


A Girl and a Gun
A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League (AG & AG) is a shooting club established by women shooters for women shooters. AG & AG events are intended to be fun, social gatherings where women can come together for support, encouragement, ask questions in a safe and nonjudgmental environment, improve on their marksmanship, and bond together in the shooting community.