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When love turns into terror

The video of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice punching his fiancee in the face has some people asking why she stayed with and married him.
A crime spree that started in Richfield and ended in Edgecombe County over the weekend might contain the kernel of an answer. Julie Moody and Montannez Moody where scheduled to face each other in court Monday over a domestic violence protective order aimed at keeping him away from her. Instead, he forced his way into her home on Saturday, killed her sister and shot her aunt as Julie Moody hid in a closet with her infant twins. Then Montannez took off for another town where he kidnapped and raped a woman, holding her hostage for more than 8 hours. By Sunday, he was facedown in Edgecomb County, dead from a drug overdose.
Ray Rice is no Montannez Moody. But people who ask why women stay in abusive relationships have no clue about domestic violence and the dynamics of abusive personalities. Still, as one essayist at TIME said, the why-she-stays question is like asking a rape victim why she was out so late. Instead, everyone should be asking about the behavior of the abuser. Why did he hit her? What made him think that was OK?
Rice’s wife, Janay Palmer, does not appear to be getting any satisfaction from seeing him publicly shamed and booted from the career of his dreams — and perhaps hers.
While the Rice case dominates the national news, the local story involving the Moody couple carries a more important and potentially dangerous message. One reason women don’t leave abusive relationships is fear of what their partner will do. Now they have a fresh example of the terror an abusive spouse can commit in response to legal action.
Retaliation is no myth. It is why battered women’s shelters strive to keep their locations confidential, why abuse victims want to keep their own whereabouts unknown. Abuse is about control, and a battered spouse who walks out obviously is no longer under control.
Women who want to escape an abusive relationship can call the Family Crisis Council of Rowan County for an understanding listener, counseling and access to the Battered Women’s Shelter. The council has a strong record of helping and protecting victims. Call 704-636-4718. The hotline operates 24/7.
Meanwhile, the rest of us can take our cue from the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Among its tips for helping abuse victims are these two to keep in mind:
• Acknowledge that they are in a very difficult and scary situation; be supportive and listen.
• Be non-judgmental.

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