Deadly: The High Cost of domestic violence

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A closer look at domestic violence cases in Brooklyn, and its impact on a community.

A photo of Sellis Gonzales, a mother from Brooklyn who was killed in September. Photo: Jerome Bailey

 

Consider the staggering numbers of domestic violence.

  • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates.
  • Every year, one in three women who is a victim of homicide, is murdered by her current or former partner, according to victim service agency, Safe Horizon.

One of those women may have been Sellis Gonzales, a Brooklyn mother who was killed in September.

Police answered a domestic violence call at Gonzales’s address in 2008. During that year, public court records show that, Eric McCormick, 40, the boyfriend of Gonzales, was arrested and pled guilty to assault, menacing, criminal mischief and harassment. He had a two-year restraining order placed on him, though it is not clear if the order was between him and Gonzales.

Gonzales, 44, was the mother of two daughters, Khadija, 15 and Alyssa, 5. The girls came home on Sept. 18 to find their mother lying in a pool of blood. She had been shot six times.

McCormick, the lone suspect in the homicide was missing for a week. He attempted suicide after a standoff with police on Sept. 25 when he was found hiding over 100 miles upstate in Hurleyville. He subsequently suffered a stroke and died a few days later after being removed from life support. With the death of McCormick and Gonzales, Alyssa, the youngest girl, is left with no living parents.

“Domestic violence impacts the community in so many ways. Half a million women report domestic abuse annually. Only 48 percent are reported to the police,” said Luis Matos, Director of Education and Communication services at the Center Against Domestic Violence.

According to Matos, most people only notice domestic violence when there’s a homicide.

Matos added that the emotional toll is high for the children of people in physically abusive relationships.

“They may even blame themselves for the violence that occurred,” said Matos.

When asked if she thought domestic violence was the cause of death for Gonzales, longtime friend Tessa Gillies, 44, a business owner who lives and works in Crown Heights replied,

“If anybody is going through a situation of domestic violence, they need to find some way out, some way of telling someone, said Gillies. If something was going on with Sellis, I wish we could have known more.”

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