A serious domestic incident with tragic consequences shocked a quiet and affluent neighborhood in Maryland. The father of one of the families living in that subdivision, with its large homes and spacious yards, took his own life after killing his estranged wife and one of their children. His older son was seriously injured. The police discovered the scene after responding to an anonymous tip about a domestic disturbance in the family’s home.
Prior to the tragedy, the wife had sought a protective order and, in doing so, described for the court several incidents of her husband’s domestic violence, some of which the couple’s son also witnessed. However, she later changed her mind and informed the judge that she did not wish to go forward with her request for a protective order, and instead wanted to seek counseling with her husband.
Authorities also claimed that three months prior to the tragedy, police had visited the home in order to do a welfare check on the family. Officers found no visible evidence of domestic violence.
This tragedy illustrates that domestic violence happens in families of all different socioeconomic backgrounds and that no one ought to assume that wealthier families – or any family, for that matter – are immune from it.
Loved ones can help families avoid tragedies such as these by watching for subtle commonsense warning signs that domestic violence is taking place in a home. While some of these warning signs may be apparent, others may well go unnoticed without careful observation.
Ultimately, however, there is no definitive way to tell whether someone is a domestic violence victim without asking him or her and getting an honest answer. Unfortunately, this may be difficult at times because victims, for many and complex reasons, often prefer to keep the violence to themselves. Loved ones must provide victims with the support they need to disclose domestic violence. Outside assistance, such as that available through shelters or through counseling services, may also benefit victims.
Finally, a Maryland domestic violence lawyer may provide additional emotional support and should, if the circumstances call for one, make efforts to secure a protective order. This order will allow authorities to arrest a perpetrator of domestic violence if he or she continues to contact the victim.
Source: The Washington Post, “Three dead in apparent murder-suicide in Calvert County, authorities say,” Mihir Zaveri, July 31, 2012.
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