Domestic violence is described as when a person feels intimidated and in fear for their safety or life, or that of their children. Not of being hit, but just the threat of being hit.
"One of the signs to look for in someone you suspect of domestic violence is the control aspect," said Lisa Lee, executive director of Advocates to End Domestic Violence.
"They want to know where you are, what you spend, who you talk to. They isolate you from your family and friends. Then there's a big fight if they do call family. The person feels like they're walking on eggshells all the time."
Lee said with isolation it becomes more difficult to intervene if the victim cannot be reached. Statistics show a person is 75 percent more likely to be killed if they leave the abuser than if they stay in the home. Three women are killed each day in the United States by domestic violence.
"When the victim leaves, the abuser has lost control," Lee said. That's where Advocates can help.
Lee, director of Advocates since 1986, said when domestic violence turns to death, she always wonders, "Have we done enough?"
"You start second guessing and hope you have offered enough public awareness. Was everything available that could of or should have been?
"I am sorry for the family's loss. It is such a huge hole to have been killed in such a violent way. It will change the family's whole view now. I have such empathy for them for going through this."
Advocates to End Domestic Violence has a Victims' Advocates unit to help victims file stalking and restraining orders, accompany them in court and help with other paperwork.
"They go through a safety plan with the victim," Lee said. "A restraining order is a piece of paper, not a bullet-proof vest."
Lee said 80 percent of abusers are not violent outside of their home. And one-third of women's injury visits to the emergency room are domestic-violence related.
"A friend or family can call us on our crisis line. We do need to talk to the victim to be sure this is what they want.
"Nevada ranks in the top eight for domestic violence deaths. That's unfortunate - not something to be proud of or put in a tourist brochure."
Lee said there are many reasons a person does not leave a domestic situation. Most of all, they don't know their options.
"We have a very homelike shelter and offer up to five months' stay. For many people, it's very embarrassing to tell someone this is happening to them. It's a family secret kept very close; they don't boast about it.
"Many people are quick to judge these days, and this is a direct reflection of a person's better judgment. It's very embarrassing for most.
"Victims don't want to get a restraining order because it will set (the abuser) off. You must do it to take proper legal steps.
"It is the most frightening step, going to the courthouse and all the paperwork. You have to take it seriously even if you think you're exaggerating.
"If you're unsure, call and talk with one of our counselors."
n Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1223.
Call Advocates to End Domestic Violence
or Victims' Advocates