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Will He Kill You?

Signs that mean a violent relationship could turn deadly

  • September 10, 2014
  • By domesticshelters.org
Will He Kill You?

Every fifteen seconds. That’s how often another woman is beaten by her husband or partner in the U.S.

Perhaps more staggering is this number: 3. That’s how many women die, every day in the U.S., as a result of domestic violence. If you or someone you know is currently with a violent partner, taking this statistic as a warning could save your, or her, life.

There are several indicators that experts agree can mean that violence is escalating to a lethal level, but the most accurate indicator is a survivor’s perception of her danger level. According to Turning Point, a domestic violence advocacy group and shelter in Michigan, “If the woman is very afraid and says she will be killed, or may be killed, then the possibility of life-threatening violence is present.”

The nonprofit lists the following characteristics as being Lethality Indicators in an abusive partner:

Lethality Indicators 

  • Perceived loss of control over the victim through separation, divorce or the victim leaving
  • Extreme jealousy
  • An escalation of abuse
  • Abuse that occurs in a public place
  • Suicide or homicidal threats, and plans to carry out either
  • Access to a weapon, especially a gun
  • Stalking
  • A history of mental health problems
  • Substance abuse
  • A history of sexual abuse of the victim or of children
  • Violation of a protective order

Unfortunately, statistics show that 75 percent of serious injuries in domestic violence cases occur after the victim has decided to end the relationship. In June of 2013, Maria Flores of Las Vegas was shot and killed by her abusive boyfriend of three years, a man who Flores told a friend she was going to leave. The man also shot and killed Flores’ 17-year-old daughter, and shot and wounded Flores’ 4-year-old daughter. Besides the one friend who knew of Flores’ plans to leave, the victim never opened up about the abuse. 

If you are planning to leave an abusive partner, creating a safety plan first could save your life. It is best to do this with a trained domestic violence advocate in your area—you can find one here. Decide when is the safest time to leave and where you will go. Arrange a place to stay—an advocate can assist you in finding a shelter and can help set up arrangements for you ahead of time. 

If you are going to stay with a friend, choose one who your abuser does not know. Plan how you will safely get your children out of the house with you. If your abuser has harmed or threatened your pets, is there someone who can take them for you before you leave? If not, ask if you can bring them with you to where you’re going. For more information on what to do with your animals, read, "Planning for Pets' Safety."

Next, prepare an emergency bag that includes not only extra clothes, but also birth certificates, passports, social security cards, court documents, health insurance information, spare house and car keys, and money. See if you can store this bag at a friend’s house so that your abuser will not find it.

Remember, if at any time you feel in imminent danger, call 911 without hesitation.