HARTFORD, Conn. (AP/WTNH) — Few actions were taken to prevent many of the 18 domestic violence deaths in Connecticut in 2010, despite warning signs that the victims faced potential harm, according to a report released Tuesday that called for more public education about the issue.
The report was compiled by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee, which includes victims' relatives, victim advocates, police, prosecutors and social service providers.
The committee said the rate of domestic violence homicide in the state remains steady, despite increasing public awareness of the problem and more professional training to deal with it.
"In every case reviewed, family members, friends, and/or professionals were not fully aware of the escalating circumstances between the perpetrator and the victim," the report said. "These individuals did not recognize the significance of the situation or the warning signs.
"There seemed to be a lack of any immediate referrals and/or interventions focusing on safety for victims and treatment for perpetrators," the report said.
In August, Margaret Bostrom will have been gone 16 years now, but the day of her passing is as real as if it were yesterday.
"When she stepped out of the shower, he was waiting there with a butcher knife, stabbed her 16 times, any one of nine would have been fatal," said Larry Bostrom, lost daughter to domestic violence.
Domestic violence homicides like that of Bostrom are far too common in our country.
"The most important thing we can do, is talk about this issue and change the way people think about it," said Rep. Mae Flexer. "So the question doesn't continue to be, 'Why does she stay with him? Why does she put up with that?' Instead, the question is, 'Why does he think he can treat her that way?'"
Key findings include family or friends were not aware the victim was in an abusive relationship, the abuse started when the victim was a teenager, the victim had a job, family members do not feel connected to support services.
"I didn't know that in the middle of my divorce, that I was in the middle of the most dangerous times for women," Nancy Tyler said.
Tyler knows all too well the need to get help. Her ex-husband Richard Shenkman kidnapped her in 2009, held her hostage, and threatened to kill her before she finally escaped. Shenkman was sentenced to 70 years in prison earlier this year.
"I treated his threatening behavior as a nuisance," Tyler said, "and I ignored that nagging voice inside me warning of danger."
The key to this study: know the warning signs, get help, offer help. The kind of help that came too late for Margaret Bostrom.
"I saw fingerprints on her arm, one time, and I asked her about it," said Shirley Bostrom, lost daughter to domestic violence, "she said 'Ma, it's been taken care of, it won't happen again.'"
The statewide domestic violence hotline is 888-774-2900.
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