Domestic violence expert gives warning signs of abuse

Expert says people who are dying aren't reaching out

By Alicia Booth - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Domestic violence experts in Jacksonville are hoping a series of highly publicized and deadly cases of domestic violence in the area will shine a light on what services are available to victims.

"What we know from extended research of deaths related to domestic violence is that the people who are dying aren't reaching out," said Gail Patin, CEO of Hubbard House.

Patin told News4Jax a recent case of domestic violence in the area, while horrific, may compel someone who is in an abusive relationship seek help to escape it.

"Somebody listening today can reach out and call our hotline and get help," Patin said.

The push to educate victims about available services follows a deadly case of apparent domestic violence.

Investigators say that on Halloween morning in Hyde Park, Ashlee Rucker was killed by her ex-boyfriend, Chad Absher, in a double shooting that left Ashlee's sister, Lisa Rucker, wounded. Lisa is continuing to recover in the Intensive Care Unit at UF Health and is expected to make a full recovery.

Family and friends said they tried to get Ashlee out of what they described as a very abusive relationship with Absher.

Patin alerted potential victims to some of the warning signs of abuse:

  • If your partner has ever said to you, "I am going to kill you or the children."
  • If they have used a weapon against you or the children. The weapon could be a gun, a knife or an object thrown at you.
  • If you believe they can kill you or your children.
  • When he or she says something like, "If I can't have you, nobody will."

If you believe any of these statements to be true, your risk for death increases exponentially and you need to reach out for help, Patin said.

"When you're planning to leave an abusive relationship, that can be the most dangerous time," she said.

Patin suggested reaching out to Hubbard House because the people there can help a victim plan safely because sometimes you do need to go into hiding. 

"That person will try to track you down, kill you, and kill everybody in the path," she said.

When it comes to what friends and family can do, Patin said if someone tells you they are being abused, believe it.

Another troubling sign is when it appears a partner is isolating someone from spending time with friends and family or trying to control the person's every move.

The hotline for Hubbard House is 800-500-1119.

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