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Inside the newsroom: Are you an abuser? A victim?

Crime scene investigators begin their work as Sandy police investigate a multiple shooting on Tuesday, June 6, 2017.
Crime scene investigators begin their work as Sandy police investigate a multiple shooting on Tuesday, June 6, 2017.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Some news stories contain a body count. Preventing that is the purpose of Lois Collins' compelling story on Page 1 of Sunday's Deseret News and online today under the headline, "Why it is so hard to spot domestic abuse early on and what to do once you see it."

The numbers of those suffering some measure of domestic violence are staggering. Consider the 20,000 phone calls that are placed to domestic violence hotlines on a typical day. Some are from people simply searching for information, but others are from people seeking rescue.

Emotional and physical abuse is so pervasive that most media organizations report on only the most extreme cases, such as the heartbreaking case of the Santa Clara woman allegedly killed by her husband while the family was on a vacation cruise to Alaska. Such an occurrence on a cruise ship is rare. If it was in a home out of state you might not have heard about it.

What reporter Collins is able to do in her report is show the real warning signs — the things to consider — in a relationship. It's as important for those just beginning dating relationships as it is for married couples wondering what's going wrong.

Consider the following paragraph in today's story:

"A partner who lies, is jealous of your family and friends, acts possessive, blames others for his or her own behavior, wants to know where you are or who you’re with, tries to move the relationship forward too quickly, doesn’t want to introduce you to his family and friends, criticizes or blows up gives off red flags that shouldn’t be ignored, said Angela McIlveen, a family law attorney in Gastonia, North Carolina."

Not everyone who is prone to jealousy becomes an abuser. Someone who blames others for their own shortcomings my simply need love and mentoring to learn that this is a destructive behavior.

However, understanding what can come from such behaviors allows those beginning relationships to assess whether they are in a relationship worth continuing. For those married or armed with knowledge about these behaviors it can be aggressively addressed, before it becomes violent.

After the story posted online, our reporter received an email from a reader. We expect those victims in abusive relationships to feel the impact of a story such as this. But this man recognized some of these behaviors in himself.

Here is an excerpt from his email: "Thanks for the information you conveyed so well. Helped me a lot. I recognized behavior that I have not understood and this is a great starting point for me. ... I am just starting counseling this week and so I am dialed in to looking for this kind of information. I'm sure that I am intelligent and capable enough to make changes in my behaviors and I feel desperate to get me fixed. Never physically abusive however mental and emotional abuse to perfectly good ladies. I wish I had understood better."

Help is available at 1-800-897-5465 (LINK).