Domestic violence victims' advocate: If you don't feel safe, leave now

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You never know when it's going to escalate, says a domestic violence victims' advocate from Haven. (Courtesy photo)

A domestic violence victim advocate said the best advice she can give to anyone who feels unsafe in a relationship is to leave immediately and get to a safe place. If they have kids, take them, too, she says.

"It's very individual, but if you feel unsafe, you need to get out, you need to get help and you need to stay safe," said Terrie, an advocate for Haven, which serves New Hampshire men, women and children affected by domestic and sexual violence.

Terrie, who didn't want to give her last name, said the reason it's important for potential victims to leave once they feel threatened is because "you don't know how or when it will escalate."

On Tuesday the city of Rochester was rocked by a tragic Christmastime incident of domestic violence in which 47-year-old Brian Halsey is said have shot and critically wounded his wife before turning the gun on himself.

Brian Halsey, of 2 Sunrise Driver, died at the scene, while his wife, Kristine, 45, was seriously injured. She remains in critical condition today at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

Terrie said prior to when the decision to leave occurs, it is always wise to engage your partner in talks about their behavior, whether it is violent tendencies, depression or suicidal thoughts.

"Talking always helps," she said. "But if they stop wanting to talk, that's dangerous; then it is all internalized."

Terrie said the mistake some intimate partners make is thinking they can either change the person or that they just can't leave the household. She said often having children makes it even more difficult.

"We want to step in before it escalates," she said.

She added that even when they do step in early, that doesn't guarantee a good outcome. Sometimes not even a protection order is protection enough, she said.

The Halseys do have several children who are currently staying with relatives. Grief counselors are available today to aid students at various Rochester schools.

Meanwhile, Rochester Police continue to investigate the incident as an attempted murder-suicide while awaiting autopsy results on Brian Halsey.

Haven's 24-hour hotline is (603) 994-SAFE (7233) and walk-in services are offered locally at 150 Wakefield St. in Rochester. Haven also has offices in Portsmouth and Salem.

Some general warning signs of domestic violence include

  • Wants to move too quickly into the relationship.
  • Early in the relationship flatters you constantly, and seems "too good to be true."
  • Wants you all to him- or herself; insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family.
  • Insists that you stop participating in hobbies or activities that you enjoy, quit school, or quit your job.
  • Does not honor your boundaries.
  • Is excessively jealous and accuses you of being unfaithful.
  • Wants to know where you are all of the time and frequently calls, emails, and texts you throughout the day.
  • Criticizes or puts you down; says you are crazy, stupid, and/or fat/unattractive, or that no one else would ever want or love you.
  • Takes no responsibility for his or her behavior and blames others.
  • Has a history of abusing others.
  • Blames the entire failure of previous relationships on his or her former partner; for example, "My ex was totally crazy."
  • Takes your money or runs up your credit card debt.
  • Rages out of control with you but can maintain composure around others.

(adapted from National Network to End Domestic Violence)

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