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Finding Help Before Tragedy

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) As populations increase in an area, healthcare experts say its normal to see a similar increase in violence. But in three weeks, five eastern Iowans are dead as a direct result of what police say are domestic disputes.

"He approached her, yelled something at her and then started shooting her with a long gun, said Cedar Rapids Public Safety Officer Greg Buelow.

Thats what Dennis Koopman did last Friday in Cedar Rapids. After killing his wife, he killed himself. It came just a few weeks after Robert Livingston did the same after killing his wife and mother-in-law not far away.

"Investigators believe the Koopman's were going through a divorce, said Buelow.

"Certainty when marriages or relationships break up, bad things sometimes can happen, said the Medical Director of Behavioral Services at Mercy Family Counseling Dr. Alan Whitters.

Waypoint Services CEO Jaye Kennedy says it can boil down to control and dominance, and the need for that from the person committing the abuse.

She says when one person feels like theyre losing control, they take it back. In extreme cases, it ends in murder. But even when violence doesnt grab the headlines, we need to make sure that we, as a community, let community members know that that's not acceptable, said Kennedy.

The challenge is providing help when its needed.

"The person has to agree or ask for help, said Whitters.

He says too often, people dont ask for help or dont recognize problems that others are having. Only then can they find a support group, see doctors or check into a hospital to get the help they need before a tragedy.

"It can cost lives if you don't speak out, said Kennedy. It's a matter of life or death."

Kennedy says the best way for a potential victim to stay safe is to stay away. She says if the abuser wants to be violent, theres a limit to what something like a restraining order can do. If you need help, or you know someone who does, doctors urge you to reach out right away for assistance.
 
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