SALEM - Local advocates for victims of domestic violence are encouraging people to review their safety plans and educate themselves on how to survive.
"People need to have some plan in place for how they're going to get out," Christina House Program Manager Beth Schmitt said.
In the past couple of years, several area residents with Salem ties have lost their lives at the hands of a spouse or ex-boyfriend, one as recently as two weeks ago in the employee parking lot at Walmart in a murder/suicide.
Sylvia Maillis, 37, of Canfield, was shot to death during her break by Charles Kropinak, 36, of Campbell, who then turned the gun on himself.
In June, 32-year-old Salem resident Samantha Shasteen was strangled to death in her home. Her estranged boyfriend, 34-year-old Mason Feisel, of Boardman, was charged with her murder. When police found him, he had tried to cut himself.
Last December, Salem High School graduate Kimberly Court, 20, was shot to death in the employee parking lot of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport by her estranged husband, who then shot himself to death. She was reporting to her job as a Transportation Security Administration agent.
In August 2012, 49-year-old Tracie Hensley was shot to death by her husband, Greg Hensley, 47, at their Egypt Road home outside Salem. He also killed himself, with all the violence taking place in front of fellow family members.
Salem Police Chief J.T. Panezott said domestic violence is horrible and its unpredictable in many cases. For the case at Walmart, he's not sure anything could have stopped what happened, even if a protection order had been in place.
While victim advocates still recommend protection orders, Schmitt said it's just a piece of paper, cautioning that people still need to be wary and have a plan in place for what to do in certain situations. In 19 years in this field, she said she hasn't seen any changes. If anything, she said it appears to be getting worse.
"People just don't value another person's life anymore- they don't have respect for each other anymore," she said.
Elaine Kloss, a Christina Center legal advocate who helps victims apply for protection orders at the courthouse in Lisbon, said people can learn from all of these situations and re-evaluate their safety planning. If an ex shows up at work, what should they do? If the ex shows up at a public place, what can be done? These are all questions that can be answered through planning.
Call the police, she said. If a protection order is in place, abide by the rules and don't initiate contact. Make sure all police agencies, including the one governing a workplace, are aware of the protection order.
Panezott said the courts usually make sure the department has copies of protection orders issued, but he asked that anyone who works in Salem and lives out of the county to check with the police to ensure a copy is on file in Salem.
"We take them very seriously," he said.
The police respond to some type of domestic violence call nearly every day. He said if there's any sign of violence, somebody's going to jail.
Schmitt said they try to make people aware of the services they have available. Next month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
According to information provided by the Tri-County Family Violence Prevention Coalition, headquartered in Youngstown, "domestic violence occurs in all kinds of families, regardless of age, race, gender, economic status, educational background, religion, sexual orientation. No one is immune."
It is defined as the "use of violence to have power and control over the partner, including intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, blaming, economic abuse, threats, physical and sexual abuse."
The coalition noted that workplace violence accounts for nearly 17 percent of U.S. fatal work injuries and nearly one-third of women killed in U.S. workplaces from 2003-2008 were killed by a current or former intimate partner.
"The annual cost of lost productivity as a result of domestic violence is estimated at $727.8 million with over 7.9 million paid workdays lost per year," the coalition quoted from the Centers for Disease Control.
Recent events affecting the women with Salem ties also impacted their workplaces.
Workplace Violence Training Options is a program being made available in the area for employers through VIP Workplace Program. The session in Columbiana County is set for Oct. 16 from 8:45 to 10:45 a.m. at the county Department of Job and Family Services on Dickey Drive in Lisbon. The two-hour training is limited to three participants per company at a cost of $35 per person.
For information about the program, contact Dottie Kane at 330-744-4244 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.