Domestic violence: Know the warnings signs

DELRAY BEACH, FL (WFLX) - The murder of a mother and her four children shed light on the increasing number of people killed in domestic violence.

Relatives say the accused shooter, Patrick Dell, was extremely jealous of his estranged wife, and, he believed, she was cheating on him.

On Monday morning, investigators said Dell shot his wife and her five older children. One of them -- a 10th grader at William T Dwyer High School -- survived.  He did not shoot the children, ages 1 and 3 year, the couple had together.

According to court records, he had a history of violence. Court records show Natasha Whyte-Dell had taken out a restraining order against Dell saying he had grown increasingly violent toward her.

But a restraining order may not be enough. "It certainly can't be relied on to keep somebody alive. Because sadly people do not follow them," said Pamela O'Brien, executive director of Aid for Victims of Domestic Abuse based in Delray Beach.

O'Brien said restraining orders can be an effective tool, but sometimes women need to take drastic measures to get away from their abuser. The agency helps women seek refuge at a shelter or even relocate out of the area.

She says the problem is growing. "We have seen an unbelievable increase in the number of calls," she said.

She also said people should take threats seriously.

Here are some warning signs to look for to know if you're in a relationship that could turn violent.

  • Your partner is over-controlling
  • Wants to know where you are every minute
  • May try to isolate you from friends and family.
  • Abuses animals.
  • Has made threats before.
Copyright 2010 WFLX. All Rights Reserved.