As is common with traumatic events, shock and disbelief are initial reactions of neighbors, family, friends, and coworkers—even when they knew of ongoing domestic problems.

Reporters often quote witnesses in the initial denial stage: "These things don't happen around here, supposedly," [said one shocked neighbor]. "This is a quiet neighborhood." (Mailloux case, Providence Journal, 4/29/96)

Interview the victims' coworkers, relatives, and friends several days after the initial shock because they are often aware of a history of controlling and abusive behaviors, if not an escalation in the abuse.

Media Practice

“A six-year veteran of the town’s police department has been placed on paid suspension pending the outcome of a judicial case stemming from a domestic incident that took place in Westerly on Aug. 18. The 31-year-old officer, patrolman Ryan Donahue, was charged with two counts of domestic simple assault and domestic disorderly conduct immediately following reports of a domestic disturbance, which Westerly police said took place on Oak Street around 7:30 p.m. while Donahue was off-duty.” – The Westerly Sun 9/9/20