As is common with traumatic events, shock and disbelief are initial reactions of neighbors, family, friends, and coworkers—even when they knew of ongoing domestic problems.

Reporters often quote witnesses in the initial denial stage: "These things don't happen around here, supposedly," [said one shocked neighbor]. "This is a quiet neighborhood." (Mailloux case, Providence Journal, 4/29/96)

Interview the victims' coworkers, relatives, and friends several days after the initial shock because they are often aware of a history of controlling and abusive behaviors, if not an escalation in the abuse.

Media Practice

"Mrs. Randolph [victim] was concerned enough that she asked her brother to meet her for lunch to try to figure out what to do... Michael Burrell [victim's second brother] said, he, too, knew something was amiss in the marriage... 'I guess it got rocky toward the end.' " (Randolph case, Providence Journal, 5/2/96)