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When the perpetrator kills himself, reporters and headline writers may treat the murders as epic tragedies rather than domestic violence.

This is especially true when children are also murdered: "A model employee whose life fell apart." (Young case, Providence Journal, 3/22/99)

Without context, these headlines obscure domestic violence, framing murders as private tragedies.

Use sources to illuminate the psychology of domestic violence. Interview experts, family, coworkers, and friends to look for warning signs—a pattern of control, intimidation, and/or violence.

Media Practice

"When a father kills: Maurice Young may have shot his three children to hurt their mother in the worst way he could, domestic abuse experts say. 'Maybe it was the only way he could hurt her because she was leaving him,' said Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 'It is unfortunately a very common dynamic, where the batterer will say, 'If I can't have her, nobody else can,' or 'If I can't have her, I'm going to hurt her the worst way I can—through the kids.' " (Young case, Providence Journal, 3/26/99)

"The victim's mother, Laura Dobson, ultimately came to believe that Stephen Marfeo killed her daughter [Doreen Dobson Marfeo]...'He always said she was his one true love. But that love formed an 'obsession' that at one point took the form of Marfeo's setting private detectives on his wife's trail for 'months and months'... And when Doreen visited her mother on Saturdays, 'he would call to see if she was there'... 'He has a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality, I think.' " (Vincent case, Providence Journal, 8/22/99)

Note: Stephen Marfeo killed his former girlfriend, Laura Vincent. He was also a chief suspect in the disappearance of his wife, Doreen Dobson Marfeo.