From the wrestler Chris Benoit's high profile case, to the mass killings in nearby Delavan, Wisconsin, stories of domestic murder have ripped across headlines this year. 23 News investigates what's behind these dangerous relationships and how victims can get out before its too late.
"Still moments that remind you of her. Still waiting for her to come back."
Kay Macara is having a hard time believing her 19-year old daughter Vanessa Iverson is gone for good.
Iverson was shot to death June 9th along with five other people, including two infants, in a home in Delavan, Wisconsin. Investigators say it was a murder- suicide, motivated by intense jealousy. Family and friends allege both the suspected shooter and another man who escaped the bloodbath unharmed were abusing their partners, two of Iverson's friends, both of whom were among the dead. Macara says she warned her daughter to stay out of their conflicts.
"I told her that she's got to let people work their own things out, because one of these days someone's going to hurt her or kill her and she said I'm not worried. I said well you wouldn't have to worry about it because you'd be dead," says Macara.
So why didn't the Delavan victims get out of their relationships? The director of WAVE, a Rockford service for abuse victims says it's not that easy.
"Domestic violence is about power and control. So once the partner makes an attempt to leave, she is starting to regain some of the control and the other partner tries to up the ante and get some of that control back, and so those are oftentimes where incidents are more abusive," explains Wave's Program Director Becky Winstead.
Macara suffered through an abusive relationship herself.
"People think its easy to get out of a relationship like that and its not. You actually feel more comfortable staying with the abuser because you know what their attitude is, what to expect, where if you try to leave them every moment is looking over your shoulder."
Statistically, one in three American women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime. WAVE serves 2,000 adults and children a year here in the Stateline. Counselors say it's very important for family and friends to support abuse victims when they're ready to leave and have created what WAVE calls a safety plan.
"Ways to notify others that she's in danger or ways she can just plan for herself so that she can have the financial means, she'll have the support system that she needs to make it on her own."
Macara is living proof that people can make it through abuse and tragedy. And now, even as she grieves, she hopes for a better life for the next generation of her family.
If you're experiencing domestic abuse, call the WAVE hotline at 815-962-6102. WAVE offers temporary shelter, counseling and other services. If you're worried a friend may be being abused, counselors say offer help and understanding, but don't try to force her to leave before she's ready.
Delavan Police Chief Tim O'Neill says investigators are waiting on some more forensic evidence before closing the case. But he says all the testimony and physical evidence they have now points to a murder-suicide.
Iverson's family suspect Gaspar Huerta, the man who escaped the house, because they say he was very abusive, and they question how he got out alice. But police say Huerta is not a suspect. I spoke personally with Huerta as well and he denies any wrongdoing in the case.