Extensive media coverage following the tragic death of Gabi Pettito and the recent discovery of the remains of her fiancé, Brian Laundry, has focused attention on what can only be called an ongoing epidemic of domestic violence and abuse in America. To be clear, Laundry has never been charged with Pettito’s murder and is only mentioned as a significant person in her disappearance. But the case raises important and persistent questions About the extent of any domestic violence Petito may have suffered And what could have been done to prevent her death?
Despite Pettito’s death, the amount of attention her case has generated is a vital opportunity.
Despite Pettito’s death, the amount of attention her case has generated is a vital opportunity to talk about the need for greater collective understanding about the warning signs of domestic violence, which often go unnoticed. Many people, including friends and family of a potential victim and sometimes those who work in law enforcement or public health positions, miss or do not recognize red flags.
we Act You know that the cause of Pettito’s death was sentenced to strangulation, It is a crime often associated with domestic violence. Strangulation is a particularly insidious form of intimate partner violence, often non-fatal strangulation Prelude to increasingly violent forms of abuseincluding death. We also know that Petito and Laundrie got into a local dispute shortly before Petito’s death. But the discovery of Laundry’s body in Florida, and The coroner’s autopsy report refers to his death as “inconclusive,” It means that it will be very difficult for Petito’s parents and friends to get answers. The police will never be able to question Laundry about Beto’s final moves. This would hinder, if not completely derail, attempts to close her family.
It can be difficult, unfortunately, to do justice in this case. But if there is a positive side, it is the need for a greater public focus on alleged intimate partner violence at all times – not just when it is a factor in a high-profile story. Domestic violence transcends gender, race, and economic status. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 3 women and more than 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Experienced women of color Intimate partner violence more than white women But he may be more reluctant to report it.
There are ways to combat this. First, across the country, law enforcement—including prosecutors and first responders—should receive specialized training in how to better recognize warning signs of domestic violence, as we do here in Westchester County, and respond in ways that encourage victims to speak out. This is especially true in cases where the signs are not blatantly obvious.
Prosecutors and police officers who interview a potential victim of domestic violence should use a trauma-focused approach, in which interviewers are aware of the signs of trauma and abuse and understand the way they may appear in the victim’s narrative. Victims of domestic violence may have inconsistent memory of events, and gaps in their memory should not necessarily be equated with insincerity. Fear, uncertainty, and trauma may also affect how the victim describes their experiences and building trust may take time and consistency on the part of law enforcement. Proper training can make these initial interviews more productive and can put law enforcement in a better position to earn the victim’s trust.
Second, access to domestic violence services should not depend on where you live or how much money you have. While many societies have expended enormous resources to address intimate partner violence, there are There is still a wide discrepancy in the availability of these services. We know that Economic insecurity is a major obstacle Many domestic violence victims are reported, along with a lack of access to service providers who specialize in these types of cases. as To a study by the Southwestern Rural Health Research CenterRural and low-income communities are particularly affected by a lack of access to preventive services [intimate partner violence], including access to regular health care and routine check-ups [intimate partner violence]. “
Here, plaintiffs are in a prime position to help. Prosecutors and police officers are often the first to speak with the victim and a critical part of this interaction is making sure that victims know they will receive protection and support. Most importantly, this protection and support cannot be terminated just to solve the issue. Our duty to keep and protect these victims extends far and wide and law enforcement must commit to continuing to work with and support victims even when our criminal case is complete or even when the victims are not apprehended but there are red flags.
Third, we must work to get guns out of the hands of abusers and out of homes where domestic violence occurs. Clearly, as Pettito has demonstrated, guns are only one piece of the violence against women puzzle. But having a handgun in the home greatly increases the risk of it being used in a domestic violence case. An assailant has a gun Five times more likely to kill a woman. In most states, prosecutors can turn over guns as a condition of protection orders, and prosecutors must ensure that offenders convicted of family crimes are entered into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which verifies that a potential buyer does not. You have a criminal record or are ineligible to purchase a weapon.
Immediately, 19 states and Washington DC have ‘red flag’ laws Which allows courts to temporarily confiscate weapons from anyone they believe poses a danger to themselves or others. These laws enable family members and law enforcement officials to petition the court to temporarily remove weapons from a person who has shown warning signs of violence. Keeping weapons away from attackers can help keep their victims alive.
Finally, we must call on our state legislatures to enact the necessary laws to help us bring these important issues to trial. In our state New York, We support legislation That would create a new offense of “domestic violence” in the penal code to ensure that the names of convicted domestic violence perpetrators are properly entered into the NICS and prevent these abusers from having access to deadly firearms, as well as Legislation that empowers prosecutors To access sealed protection orders issued in previous domestic violence cases if the perpetrator committed a new domestic violence crime.
But the responsibility to address domestic violence does not lie solely with prosecutors, the police, or the legislature. We should all be aware of behaviors or signs that someone we know is experiencing domestic violence, including evidence of stalking, physical abuse such as bruises or choking marks, and changes in emotional or mental health. Strained relationships due to financial hardship, jealousy, controlling behavior, and attempts to leave can also be warning signs for anyone who knows someone who is being abused. Community education about domestic violence can help reduce the stigma associated with being a victim and will encourage greater reporting.
This weekend marks the last few days of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Let’s work together to make sure that domestic violence is not a silent crime. We don’t know who killed Pettito, but it is clear that she died a violent death. Her family deserves justice – and so do thousands of others.