There have been a number of domestic murders in Minnesota this year, and that has many people asking what women should do to leave a relationship safely -- but experts say the onus is on the men.
Advocates who specialize in helping victims escape cycles of violence do concede that women are often too afraid to leave -- and stories about shootings like the one that took place in Shoreview on Tuesday morning certainly reinforce those fears. Yet, many experts say it's really the men who need to be seeking help when they feel out of control.
"It makes sense in terms of the underlying dynamic of domestic violence being about the need to keep power and control over that person to make them do what you want," Carol Arthur, of the Domestic Abuse Project, explained.
Arthur told FOX 9 News that desire for control over a situation culminates in tragic consequences all too often when relationships come to an end.
"We do know when women try to leave, when they get an order for protection, when they move out, when they say, 'I'm leaving you' and file for divorce, that is the most dangerous time for her," Arthur said.
Ultimately, a change of attitude is needed in order to end domestic violence and murder. According to FBI statistics, a third of women who are murdered are killed by their intimate partners.
Mandy Matula was trying to break things off with her estranged boyfriend, David Roe, hours before he shot and killed himself in the Eden Prairie City Center before police could question him in her disappearance. She has now been missing for more than a month.
Divorce papers were found in Kira Trevino's purse days after she disappeared. Months later, her body was pulled from the Mississippi River while her husband, Jeffery Trevino, waited behind bars for his murder trial to begin.
Arthur told FOX 9 News that in most cases, past actions are the best indicator of future behavior.
"In cases where there has been domestic violence, there are some sort of red flags or signs that alert us that this is a really dangerous situation -- and again, the violence will escalate when a person leaves," Arthur said.
In 2007, Eden Prairie police took a victim statement from Roe's high school girlfriend, who described him as a controlling person with a bad temper who had harassed and stalked her; however, the case was eventually cleared due to a lack of victim cooperation.
VICTIM STATEMENT: http://www.scribd.com/doc/140214785/EPPD-Document-5-4-07
Fear and intimidation often present challenges for victims seeking to end a relationship, but Arthur said no victim needs to try to cope alone. In fact, she recommends seeking help from police and advocacy groups before trying to end a violent relationship with anyone who has made threats or has easy access to a weapon.
Yet, as important as it is for victims to protect their own safety by escaping from dangerous relationships, Arthur said it is equally important for abusers to acknowledge they are a danger and reach out for help to change their behavior.
In Minnesota, half of domestic homicides are also murder-suicides, which is an unusually high statistic among the states.
HOTLINE FOR MEN: Crisis Connection: 612-379-MENS (6367)
HOTLINE FOR WOMEN: Minnesota Domestic Violence Crisis Line: 1-866-223-1111