What the Gabby Petito story means for survivors of domestic violence

TULSA, Okla. — “If you are abused for so long, you start thinking you can’t do any better. This is as good as it’s going to get,” said Sophia Gomez, a domestic violence survivor.

For Gomez, the abuse came to a head when her partner tried to kill her.

“I got strangled first and then five days later it went to a shooting, and that right there was my turning point,” she told FOX23.

Gomez’s abuser — like so many others — was able to maintain control with both physical and emotional acts of violence.

“If this is the message you are hearing day in and out. ‘You are dumb. You do not know what you’re doing. You could not make it on your own. You should be grateful I am here for you.’ A person starts to believe those things,” explained Rose Turner, a clinical social worker and the vice president of clinical programs and services at Domestic Violence Intervention Services (DVIS).

Stories like Petito and Gomez’s are all too common in the U.S.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in three women and one in four men will experience domestic violence at at least one point in their lives. Currently, Oklahoma ranks No. 3 in the country for women that are killed by men.

While Turner could not speak to the specific relationship between Petito and Brian Laundrie, she reminded FOX23 that a fun, picture perfect relationship on the surface may not always be what be what it seems.

“Somebody could be battered brutally and the batterer comes back and says I am sorry it really was not that bad but you should not have done this again blaming the victim and they say you are right. I love you I want you to be my life,” Turner explained.

Gomez’s abuser was eventually convicted of attempted first degree murder in Wichita, Kansas. Now she shares her story in hopes that it will empower others to leave potentially dangerous situations with their partners.

If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic abuse, please call the DVIS 24-hour crisis line at (918)-743-5763. You can also text them at (918)-743-5763.