Still, Teri says the abuse continued. Three years—and two kids—later, Teri left David. "He was very particular about the way I did everything, from how I stacked the dishes on the counter to how I folded his underwear to how the cans were straight in the pantry," she says. "I would go around the house all day and make sure everything is the way he wants and make sure he doesn't have anything to complain about."
Although she left, Teri, like so many women in her situation, was not yet out of danger. In fact, Gavin says most spousal murders happen after the woman leaves. "About 77 percent of the time," he says. "That's why you need help because separation, estrangement, that's the time that the homicides happen."
Gavin's advice on how to safely leave a violent situation with children
Teri says David's violent behavior continued even after she left. "We had police intervention many times. We shared custody of our two daughters, so there was always that back and forth. We always had to see one another," she says. "The name-calling, the hitting—it just continued to get worse and worse. The thumbing the nose at the court orders. Anything he could possibly do to stay in control and to say, 'I am in charge.'"
Gavin says abusers are typically controlling and exercising complete control means giving the other person a lot of attention. "We're brought up to think attention equals love," he says. "Control doesn't equal love."