Identifying warning signs of domestic abuse

Noah Project provides help for battered women and men

ABILENE, Texas - Two recent family violence cases tragically ended in murder.

People of any age or gender can fall victim to family violence and it does not necessarily begin with physical violence.

Michael Lowery is suspected of killing his wife, Amber, near Rising Star. Human remains were recovered from the property surrounding Michael's residence Wednesday. His brother, Dave, told KTXS Thursday Michael has had a history of abuse.

"If there is a bright takeaway from this at all I hope that there's a young spouse--husband or a wife--out there getting domestically abused that they see this and pause and they think this could happen to me and they either seek help or they get out of that abusive or destructive relationship, whatever the case may be," Dave Lowery said.

Brian Berry was charged with murder after allegedly shooting and killing his wife and brother-in-law at a home in Wall near San Angelo Sunday. Tom Green County Sheriff David Jones said his department had never seen an alleged family violence case involving Berry before. 

Karen Dansby, development director of the Noah Project, said emotional and financial control are red flags and can signal potential violence.

"Domestic violence is about control and control in and of itself is not a bad thing, but when it becomes coercive or when it is done to make someone do what you want them to do because they fear you, that's domestic violence," Dansby said.

Coercive behavior includes dictating how a person dresses, who they associate with, where they go. It can also include isolating a victim from their friends and family along with excessive jealousy and threatening behaviors.

Though recognizing the warning signs of an abusive relationship is important, it is often difficult for victims to leave the relationship.

"The person identifies with the individual who is the batterer--even though that they are getting beat all the time--they feel that maybe they deserve it and that's what's really difficult because they don't deserve it and that's what's most important, but they stay with the batterer many times for the sake of the children," Psychotherapist Dr. Marc Orner said. "They believe that it's going to get better."

"What we say to people is that cycle doesn't end, it just goes around and around and around until we hear the stories that are the fatalities, where the victim didn't leave in time," Dansby said.

Orner and Dansby said the most important thing friends and family can do is listen to the victim--and not judge the situation or make them feel embarrassed--and let them know they have support and can get help.

The Noah Project serves 10 counties and services are free of charge, confidential and available 24/7. Staff also provides shelter to victims of abuse whether they are male or female. Victims of family violence can contact staff at 1(800) 444-3551 or (325) 676-7107 and visit their website here.

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