Headlines of domestic violence that turn into domestic homicide are familiar here in Central Oregon. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we talked to a survivor who broke free of an abusive, possibly life-threatening relationship.
We also spoke to Trish Meyer, assistant executive director of Saving Grace, who told us that domestic abusers follow a similar pattern and are not very original.
That includes not only while abusing their victims, but from early in the relationship as well.
"If an abusive person came into a relationship abusive, the potential victim would never want to get together with that person," she said.
Meyer said abusers "are not dumb people" and are calculated about their methods to court their partners and keep them from leaving.
Our survivor's story started like many others.
She says in the beginning, her abuser was "very charismatic, said all the right things, did all the right things."
Abusers, we're told, move quickly to progress a relationship. Our survivor had moved in with her abuser after only a month of dating.
Experts say the abuse may not turn violent until the couple has made further commitments to each other, such as being engaged, married or having children.
"Oftentimes, when that commitment is made it is when the abuse starts escalating, and the abuser knows it's that much harder for the victim to extract themselves from the relationship," Meyer explained.
Due to months, sometimes years of conditioning, victims often don't feel like they are being abused.
Our survivor told us, "I didn't even realize I was in an abusive relationship mentally, physically, because it had happened so gradually."
Trying to leave an abusive relationship experts say is the most dangerous time for victims.
"He balled up his fist and punched me in the side of the head," she said. "He then proceeded to strangle me."
When she tried to leave, she added, "My life was in danger, and I knew if I didn't get out of there, my son would no longer have a mother."
The survivor we spoke with now lives abuse-free, having had the help of Saving Grace.
It's not too late for those currently living with domestic violence to escape. Saving Grace works with victims, carefully planning and preparing to successfully and safely leave an abusive relationship.
If you or someone you know needs help, call Saving Grace's 24 hour Hotline at 541-389-7021. You can learn more at http://www.saving-grace.org/