33 year old Rosamond McNeil died this week of a gunshot to her back. Her killer? Her abusive ex-boyfriend she tried many times to leave. The day before she died, she was granted a restraining order against her former boyfriend and father of her two children ages 7 and 9. The CEO of Harbor House, Orange County Florida’s Domestic Violence shelter, Carol Wick, stated in the Orlando Sentinel “The most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is when they are leaving the batterer.” Read the complete story here: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-michael-alleyne-first-appearance-20111005,0,3643357.story

(While some batterers are female, the overwhelming majority of batterers are male, and this article will refer to victims as “she” and batterers as “he.”)

What can a person do when faced with domestic violence? If you are dating someone and haven’t developed a deeper relationship yet, pay attention to how quickly your boyfriend becomes attached to you and to things your boyfriend says such as “I can’t live without you.”

Hollywood does its share in portraying stalking and potentially abusive behavior by men as “romantic,” leading young ladies to think that behavior is “good” or to be idealized. It’s not!

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Tips to avoid potentially violent relationships:

1. Pay attention to your new partner’s language; warning signs are phrases like “I can’t live without you,” or “I’d die without you,” or “If I can’t have you, no one else can.”

2. Stalking behavior; if you new partner seems to have an uncanny knowledge of where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing if you haven’t told him.

3. Irrational or explosive anger: Within 6-12 months of dating, if you see his anger, this may be a red flag. A person cannot hide behind a facade for more than 6-12 months of dating. If you observe bouts of irrational anger before 6 months time, that’s a big red flag. Pay attention to his temper and how he treats others while angry. If he treats others with anger and violence, it’ll be you eventually.

4. If he throws an object at you, pushes you, or hits you, end the relationship. He’s crossed the line of mutual respect and if he does any of those things while dating, his violence will only escalate towards you.

5. Know there is help available should you choose to leave an abusive relationship. Check for local Domestic Violence resources, they are there to help you. You are free to call them and ask questions. Two resources in Orlando are Harbor House http://www.harborhousefl.com/ and Seminole County’s Safehouse of Seminole http://www.safehouseofseminole.org/.

Should you continue to have questions or don’t know what to do, you can reach out to friends, clergymen, or professionals such as a counselor. Remember, there are many people who can help you, you don’t need to suffer alone.

About the author: Laura Peddie-Bravo is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Nationally Certified Counselor. She has worked with Domestic Violence cases as a counselor since 1997. Laura specializes in trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Laura also works with children, adolescents as well as adults. You may follow Laura on Facebook and Twitter.