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The tragic death of Gabby Petito has brought the issue of domestic violence once again into the spotlight and has pushed a nation to confront questions as to whether domestic abuse played a role in her death. When the Moab, Utah police video recording was released, Gabby was observed to be very upset with an almost childlike fear in her eyes and voice. Although she admitted to hitting Laundrie, the witness who called 911, reported an observed domestic incident where a man was slapping a woman.

Could Gabby have been engaging in reactive abuse where an abused person lashes out at their abuser?

Much information is still unknown in the case including Gabby’s cause of death and the whereabouts of her fiancé who hasn’t been seen since September 14th. Although the case clearly identifies some intimate partner abuse between the two, what is most striking is the question of whether Gabby’s death could have been prevented.

Although Gabby and her fiancé, Brian, were not married, that does not mean that the violence wasn’t domestic in nature. Domestic Violence extends to include intimate partner abuse whereas the abuse or aggression occurs in a romantic relationship whether the “intimate partner” is a current or former spouse or a dating partner. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Intimate Partner Abuse (IPV) is related to serious health issues and economic consequences and can include: physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression.

Is there a difference between an unhealthy relationship and an abusive relationship?

It is important to note that not all toxic relationships become abusive relationships but can still take a heavy toll. Toxic relationships can be defined by an unhealthy dynamic between two people to the point that if it continues, it can become damaging to your overall health and well being.There are many signs to look at in order to assess whether you are in an unhealthy relationship. Do you...

If you believe you may be in an unhealthy relationship, it is important to seek the support and help you need to make decisions about your future; where are you going and how will you get there. Leaving an unhealthy relationship is not easy, especially when fear, stress, and anxiety are prevailing in your thoughts. Loneliness and isolation are also major contributing factors to the perpetuation of toxicity and abuse.

Reach out to friends and family for support. If you are feeling too embarrassed or shameful to ask them, explore accessible online community groups such as The Split Society for the support you need. It is also important to seek the perspective of experts such as a Certified Divorce Coach who can work with you to safely plan your next steps. You do not need to do this alone!

If you are a victim of Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence and are concerned about you and your children’s safety, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text START to 88788 right now.


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