Local domestic violence advocates discuss prevention

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 11:47 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2021 at 6:17 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Domestic violence advocates are responding following what police are calling a murder-suicide between a husband and wife in Elmore on Monday.

“Domestic violence is about power and control,” said Penny Shtull, a professor of criminal justice at Norwich University. “The killing of a partner is the ultimate act of domination.”

According to the Vermont State Police, about half of homicides here are related to domestic violence. So far in 2021, three of the nine homicides were domestic violence-related.

Shutull says there is often a pattern of abuse leading to these type of incidents. “Victims are socially isolated, geographically isolated, and economically isolated,” she said. “Offenders use isolation as a tactic to maintain power and control over their victims.” In situations where abusers have access to guns, the likelihood of a homicide increases significantly. “Firearms are very effective means of intimidating and threatening someone and they can be used very impulsively to kill someone.” Shtull and others says removing stigmas surrounding domestic violence is a key step to preventing it.

Becky Gonyea, executive director at the Clarina Howard Nichols Center, said there’s still a lot of work to be done in that area. “Often, folks will say if physical abuse started on the first date, it would’ve ended then,” she said. “But that’s not how these relationships start or how they develop.”

Gonyea said if you suspect someone you know is in an abusive situation, it’s best to check in on them. “We have to stop being afraid to have these conversations and we have to ask people if they’re okay and what we can do to help,” she said. “We care about you. That’s going to make a difference. We have to believe survivors.”

Resources for Domestic Violence:

Clarina Howard Nichols Center

STEPS to End Domestic Violence

HOPE Works

Related Stories:

Police: Elmore murder-suicide happened during 911 call

Police: Husband, wife dead in Elmore shooting

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Busting myths and helping survivors

Former Williston cop pleads guilty to domestic violence

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