Hannah Grace is an executive at a food safety business she founded with her dad. She's also a domestic violence survivor. "Thank god I got out," she said.
So when Grace saw news of two deadly domestic violence incidents last week -- first in Danby and then in Peacham -- she says it brought it all back. "For me it's a sense that that could have been me," she said.
Grace got out of her marriage 11 years ago with help from domestic violence advocates -- and her family. And in the recent cases in the news, women were trying to move on with their lives -- with new partners -- when police say their exes came back seeking revenge.
In Danby, police say a woman had a restraining order in New York State, but was stabbed multiple times by her ex-husband. He only stopped when investigators say the woman's new partner shot him dead.
In Peacham, the woman managed to hide and call 911 after police say her ex-husband showed up in disguise, shot her new husband dead, and then himself. Police believe she -- and possibly others -- were also targets. "As much as she certainly was a victim, in some ways her heroic acts while the crime was taking place may have saved other lives," said Vermont State Police Col. Tom L'Esperance.
"Domestic violence is about power and control. And when a partner leaves a relationship, that is the ultimate challenge to that power and control," said Karen Tronsgard-Scott, with the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Domestic violence advocates say leaving a bad relationship can save a person's life, but it in some cases it can be life-threatening -- not only to the person leaving -- but also to their loved ones.
The Vermont Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission says in the last 18 years, half of all homicides in Vermont were domestic violence related -- 112 in all. Most of those people killed were intimate partners and other family members -- 81 in all. Experts say 23 new intimate or dating partners have also lost their lives. "When the domestic violence homicide perpetrator moves to that step, to murder, then often there are many people that are impacted. Many people get killed, and we've seen it across the country," Tronsgard-Scott said.
But she also stresses that in most cases, domestic violence survivors get out of dangerous relationships safely.
Hannah Grace says she is living proof. "There are places to keep you safe and there are places that can help," Grace said.
Grace gives back by volunteering with Women Helping Battered Women in Burlington.
If you are in a dangerous relationship and want help, contact the organization: 1-800-ABUSE-95
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