The country and maybe even the world has been gripped by the disappearance and now possible murder of Gabby Petito by her fiancée Brian Laundrie, who authorities are now looking for. As the investigation continued, we found out that the police had been called to a domestic dispute between the couple while they were traveling across the country. In police cam video Gabby can be seen crying as her fiancée laughs and the officers agree that their significant others can overreact as well. But what they failed to notice, was that Gabby needed help. Many times, we look at domestic violence and we create a vision or an idea of what a perpetrator or a victim might look like. I think this is one of the reasons that police officers failed Gabby on that day.
Domestic violence affects all groups of people and does not discriminate based on race, sex, or sexual orientation. Rates of domestic violence especially among young people have been on the rise over the past years, especially because many people do not know the signs. I have personally been in relationships that while they were not physically abusive, they were emotionally abusive and what I thought was love was control. There are several signs that you can pay attention to while dating someone, but the biggest sign is how does this person make you feel? Often, our bodies understand something before we do. So, take stock about how you feel in someone’s presence. Are you nervous? Do you feel as though you constantly must walk on egg-shells? Are you scared to voice your opinion? These are all signs that something is not right, and you need to walk away.
I know for me personally, I started dating my ex-bf and he was very intense. He wanted to spend all this time together and wanted to commit to me right away. And at the time my therapist was like most people don’t want to spend a whole day with someone they just started dating, it’s strange and that I should take notice. I heard her advice and while I did think it was strange, I decided to ignore the little voice in my head. As we continued dating, our relationship became stifling. We spent most of our time arguing because he was always accusing me of cheating on him. He was insecure and if I missed a phone call or took too long to respond to a text he would question what I was doing. I began to feel anxious when he would call or text because I never knew what to expect. One day, I stayed home sick from work and when he called me he said that he heard a man’s voice. I lived with my family at the time, so he could have heard a man’s voice, even though I knew no one was home. I started to believe that maybe he did hear something and I might be wrong. That’s what abuse does, it makes you question your own sanity. He finally ended our relationship because he believed that I was cheating on him (I wasn’t), and it took a while for me to understand how damaging this experience was. I didn’t really share everything that happened with my friends because I was ashamed and embarrassed. I wanted this to work, and in other areas everything was great, but I knew that this wasn’t right.
There are several signs of an abusive relationship, with isolation, and constant accusations being just two of them. So, if you or someone you know is in a relationship that isn’t right please don’t wait until it’s too late. As I stated before domestic violence knows no sex, so a woman can be abusive as well. My deepest condolences to Gabby’s family and friends as they mourn the life of their loved one that is gone too soon. If you or someone you know is at risk you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.