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Domestic violence deaths sometimes include unintended targets

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 4:11 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - October is domestic violence awareness month.

Action 2 News has previously reported that 68 people were killed in domestic violence incidents, in Wisconsin, last year. Another study, released by the HOPE Domestic Violence Homicide Help website -- a project of Rainbow House in Marinette County -- adds almost 30 more people to that number. It takes into account additional deaths of non-intended targets.

February 2, 2020 retired Oshkosh police officer Jay Puestohl was stabbed to death by a man during an argument at the suspect’s mother’s home. In August of that year, also in Oshkosh, James Gruettner was gunned down by his daughter’s ex-boyfriend. The suspect shot and injured Gruettner’s daughter and another man in the attack, too.

“Winnebago County lost five victims to domestic abuse and only two of them were really the intended victims,” says Beth Oswald with Christin Ann Domestic Abuse Services.

As Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services in Oshkosh recognizes domestic violence awareness month, it’s trying to bring attention to all victims -- not just the ones who are targeted by perpetrators.

“It’s not just the victims, it’s not just the survivors that are the targets. So, everybody needs to know how to respond, how to help friends, and we know that when you, when a person is leaving is the most dangerous, so if you’re intervening - you’re putting yourself in danger. If you’re trying to force, help them to leave you could be putting maybe co-workers in danger. So, I think it’s really important for people to know the situations they could be putting themselves into,” says Oswald.

She isn’t highlighting these incidents to try and scare people away from helping those who might find themselves in an abusive relationship -- instead she wants to try and raise awareness about the help that is available.

Oswald adds, “We’re not just the shelter. We have empowerment advocates, we have our crisis line that can safety plan.”

And for those who want to help people escape abusive situations, Oswald says to simply offer support.

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