Gabby was under Brian’s thumb


Anyone who has lived through domestic violence recognized the symptoms in the police cam that Utah law enforcement shared recently after a traveler reported abuse concerning Gabby and Brian. Brian and Gabby toured through several states including The Great Sand Dunes National Park in Alamosa County.

As typical of abusers, Brian repeatedly stated to officers that Gabby caused him to do this or that. He didn’t take responsibility for his demeaning words, physically grabbing or shoving her and his control over Gabby’s every move.  On the other hand and typical of those abused, Gabby gave excuses for Brian’s behavior and even took ownership for his behavior. Gabby was under Brian’s thumb. This past week, the coroner reported that Gabby’s death was a homicide by strangulation.

As a result of this video, lots of discussion in talk shows like Anderson 360, Dr. Phil, The Talk, The View and countless podcasts examined what if law enforcement had more domestic violence training or even had counselors as part of their teams? Others said, like I did, the sheriffs missed an opportunity to save Gabby’s life.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) defines domestic violence: “Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically.”

As a survivor of domestic violence, I can affirm that even in my case 40 years ago, I could have used a behavioral counselor when my abuser lied to the police saying I was abusive and that he feared for our baby. The officer showed up at my townhouse saying he was there to investigate allegations of child abuse.  Having just been gathering myself after my abuser attacked me, I hadn’t even had time to call my lawyer or police at that time. My ex had tried suffocating and strangling me on the townhouse stairs. With my son on my hip, I comforted him through his wails. The uniformed officer looked my baby over examining his legs, his arms, his back. He left stating there was no evidence of any abuse. Although he encouraged me to call my lawyer, he did not make a report when I told the officer that my ex had just tried to kill me.  I’m sad to say, no report was made of that five-minute interview.  My ex had tried to throw suspicion on me instead of confessing that he had attacked me.

Talkspace.com has some guidance when relationship might be toxic: 

“*The person in question is constantly “checking in” with you, asking where you are and/or when you’ll be home

*They flatter you and shower you with gifts, “until you feel you owe them and have to be nice, also,” said Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. and licensed psychotherapist. Then they gradually increase the pressure until they’re not nice at all, and you are still being nice. Once they get there, they’re controlling you.

*They tell you to change your clothes, or even break off relationships

*They dismiss your point of view, controlling patterns of behavior aren’t always so overtly manipulative.”

The NCADV reports that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.

It’s important to seek help if you find yourself in such a relationship. Are you cut off from family and friends? Does the abuser control all the finances? Are you told what to wear or what to eat? Are your calls monitored? These and other clues can be found at https://ncadv.org/dynamics-of-abuse. 

Gabby didn’t get help in time.  Make sure you do get help. Locally contact the domestic violence prevention and advocacy group at Tu Casa at https://www.slvtucasa.net/ or their 24-Hour Hotline:  719.589.2465.

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