Escaping from Domestic Abuse Difficult for Many Victims

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Shaun Hogan, the 36-year-old Waterloo man accused of killing his girlfriend and abducting her children, has a long and violent criminal history that includes several counts of stalking, criminal mischief, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. Advocates for survivors of domestic abuse say often it's difficult for victims to get away from someone like that.

"They might not have access to an agency in their community, to monetary funds, to a car, to their children," says Lindsay Pingel with the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Abuse

One Des Moines woman knows how hard it is to leave. We are not revealing her identity because she fears for her safety. But she spent four years in an abusive relationship that started with verbal control. "Then it progressed to sexual assault. Frequently. Even while I was asleep. There was no getting away from it. Several times I stayed because he threatened to kill himself," she says.

This survivor says abusers are master manipulators who make it difficult or impossible for their victims to leave. "They're very good at isolating you from your friends. Whether they're just rude to them behind your back or your friends get so mad because you haven't left," she says, "When they make sure you're alone than it's a lot harder to leave because you have nowhere to turn."

Some will say "Why not just leave when the abuse starts?" For this survivor the reason was fear. "At that point I had learned that he had done this to two other women and he followed them and he assaulted them numerous times afterwards," she recalls, "Restraining orders proved that they were enough to piss him off to come beat you...I was so afraid of judgement from others. You don't talk about these things happening. You don't talk about the abuse at home. You don't talk about that you're fearful for your life. Because you don't want to be judged."

And given Hogan's history, this survivor is not surprised that he is accused of killing his girlfriend. "Nope. Nope. Not at all. Not at all," she says, "It's sad but not at all."