Local experts weigh in on domestic violence concerns in Gabby Petito case

NOW: Local experts weigh in on domestic violence concerns in Gabby Petito case

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The F-B-I issues an official arrest warrant, for Brian Laundrie. That warrant stems from Laundries' activities after the death of his fiance, Gabby Petito. Crews are back out at a Florida Wildlife Reserve where police were led to believe, Laundrie might be. He went missing, after returning home to Florida from a road trip alone.

He and Petito began the trip together, but her body was found in Wyoming and her cause of death, was ruled a homicide. Now, witnesses are coming forward detailing troubling interactions between the two.

Those statements, and videos of Petito before her death have many questioning if domestic violence is a factor here.

“You know those seemingly happy, exciting, adventurous couples that are young and doing road trips that’s great, but there’s always more to the story," said Patricia Hancock, Owner of Center for Positive Change.

Hancock has been dealing with domestic violence cases here in South Bend for the past 30 years and she says the Petito case has many signs of potential abuse.

The couple who was traveling cross-county for approximately 2 months before Petito was found dead was caught on bodycam footage after police were called to an alleged physical altercation.

A police report was filed but no charges were ever made with the couple continuing on their journey and it’s something domestic violence counselor Schalisa Tate says is very common from victims fearing further abuse.

“It could very well be they are literally scared to death not to leave with that person. Right, because they know or are scared in the sense of knowing the potential reality or perceived reality that they’ve already experienced," said Tate, Domestic Violence Counselor for YWCA North Central Indiana.

While Petito’s father says there wasn’t any telling signs of abuse from Laundrie and that he was always respectful to his daughter - Hancock says the extended period of isolation during a trip on opposite side of the country from Petito’s hometown is a common action for perpetrators of abuse.

“Cutting off family supports, isolating em’, cutting em off income. You know transportation all that sorta stuff. They get isolated and then they don’t have any choices it seems like," said Hancock.

Although Petito’s family wasn’t able to identify these signs and investigators are still looking into whether or not abuse was present in this case Tate says it’s important to be there without judgement for anyone you believe may be a victim.

“While giving advice is always welcome it is a matter of partnering with that person so that they’re not being or feeling as though they’re being abused even more," said Tate.

YWCA has several programs available here locally if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence.

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