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'It's not going to be as obvious as you might think' | Domestic violence expert shares red flags of abuse

Gabby Petito's case is just one example, according to experts.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Editor's note: this story discusses domestic violence and offers a resource. For more resources in Mecklenburg County, click here. More resources from The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be found here.

While the case of Gabby Petito is making headlines across the nation, multiple women have gone missing in our area since September. One of them, 30-year-old Miranda Springs, was found dead Tuesday morning in a wooded area in West Charlotte. 

While police have not cited domestic violence as the cause of these cases, a man known to each of the women may have been the last to see them. These tragic cases have put domestic violence in the spotlight.

“It is very troubling,” said Andrea Wyant with Hope United Survivor Network.

RELATED: Autopsy reveals Gabby Petito's death caused by strangulation

Wyant said it's important people know the warning signs that they may be with an abusive partner before the situation escalates.

"One of the things we see the most is that controlling behavior, so needing to know where you are and who you're talking to," Wyant said.

Wyant said gradually, the victim may start to feel isolated.

“[The abuser doesn't] want other people to know what's going on in your life, so they need to isolate you from your friends and your family and it's not going to be as obvious as you might think," Wyant said.

Financial factors and children can make it more difficult to leave an abusive relationship. 

RELATED: Safe Alliance advocates raising awareness, calling for help to combat domestic violence

“We know that abusers can be very apologetic and show lots of remorse and say it'll never happen again, there's a lot of manipulation involved," Wyant said.

Wyant stressed of all the dangerous physically abusive behaviors, strangulation is a major red flag.

“Once your partner or your abuser has put their hands around your throat, if you’ve experienced strangulation, you are 750% more likely to die by homicide at the hands of that abuser," Wyant said.

Although it may seem no one would want to stay in a physically abusive relationship, Wyant said leaving isn’t always as easy as walking out. She says it can be dangerous, if not fatal.

RELATED: Breaking down domestic violence numbers in North Carolina

"Some of the most dangerous time in a survivor's life is those first few weeks when they're trying to leave and after they’ve left their abuser," Wyant said.

Wyant said organizations like hers help victims come up with a safety plan to get out without judgment.

"There's a misconception that it’s a certain type of person or a certain situation, and truly there's no one face of DV," Wyant said. "It could be any given person at any given time.”

If you need help, you can call their 24/7 emergency hotline at 704-852-6000.

Contact Lana Harris at lharris@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and on Instagram.

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