Columbus organization highlights domestic violence following 2 murder suicides

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A domestic situation turning deadly Tuesday morning as a couple going through a divorce was found dead in the backyard of their Lyn Drive home in Columbus.

According to officials, 25-year old Jeffrey Gilbert shot his 26-year old wife, Lora Gilbert and then turn the gun on himself.

This situation mirroring a murder-suicide happening at a Columbus luxury apartment complex in March.

Denis McGibney, 56, killed his 29-year old girlfriend, Casey Clark, before killing himself, and leaving their young toddler behind.

The Executive Director of Hope Harbour Lindsey Reis, a local domestic violence shelter for men and women, says domestic issues are far too common.

"It's something that's happening right here all the time, and it's still something people don't want to talk about," said Reis.

According to the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four victims of domestic violence actually report abusive situations to police.

Years ago, Muscogee County had an average of 3,000 domestic reports to local law enforcement annually. Today, that number estimated to be thousands more.

"It takes a victim an average of seven to nine times before they'll leave for good. It's something people forget there is a love there, there is a true intimacy there, but when it is bad, it is very bad," said Reis.

Reis says the cycle of abuse can be seen in various different fashions. She's speaking-out encouraging people, who may end up in a potentially dangerous or deadly situation to seek help before it's too late.

"It's help out there, you don't have to go through it alone," said Reis.

Domestic violence experts say choosing when to leave an abusive relationship is the most critical time for the victim.

Hope Harbour offers outreach programs for women, men, and children who need to escape abusive relationships.The organization also offers counseling services.

Other agencies are available to help by calling 211.

National Domestic Violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

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