Tina Swithin started an advocacy and networking site One Mom's Battle after what she describes as domestic abuse and a negative experience with the family court system. She says she watched the wheel of domestic violence play out in that video.
“She is isolated from her friends and family,” said Swithin. “You know he's in a position of power it's her van yet he's locking her out and threatening to abandon her on the side of the road, as a young small female in a foreign area.”
Swithin said she could relate to Petito questioning her own mental health and actions as she talked with police about a physical encounter with her fiancé. Swithin said abuse victims typically don't present well.
“A victim of domestic violence they may talk fast, they may freeze they may become defensive panicked the fight or flight mode and to someone who is not trained in recognizing. The signs of abuse that could look to them like a very unstable person,” said Swithin.
The National Coalition of Domestic Abuse lists some signs of abuse as a bad temper, unpredictability, blaming the victim for anything bad that happens, extremely controlling behavior and demeaning the victim privately or publicly.
“We have to teach her daughters to trust their intuition,” said Swithin. “We have to teach them what red flags are you know what boundaries are that they're not responsible for someone else's feelings or emotions.”
Swithin encourages abuse victims to education themselves on things like reactive, emotional abuse and coercive control and know they are not alone or to blame.
“If anything, positive comes from these stories and it is awareness that there are so many women that are missing, there are so many women who are experiencing this," Swithin said. "I know for myself just the validation that it's not me that this is actually a thing that this has a label that there's people out there that can help."
One Mom's Battle has resources for anyone going up against a high conflict, toxic individual in family court. For anyone in immediate danger, the national domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE or 7233.
The website is available by clicking here. You can also text "start" to 88788 to get help.
In the Coastal Bend, help is available from The Purple Door.