Murder-suicide highlights concerns about domestic violence

Amanda Peake was killed in a triple murder-suicide in Lexington. Her estranged boyfriend Chancey Smith is accused of shooting Peake and her two children before turning the gun on himself. / Photo Courtesy of: Facebook

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- The triple murder-suicide that took place Tuesday night in Lexington could be the latest case in a string of domestic violence incidents.

In the past two months, officials report there has been 11 domestic violence deaths across South Carolina.

Getting out of a bad relationship is often see as a solution, but in some cases leaving can be lethal, according to Executive Director Vicki Bourus of the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

When a woman separates from, moves away, or breaks up with an abusive partner it is the most dangerous time for her, Bourus says.

Authorities have yet to determine a motive, but accuse estranged boyfriend Chancey Smith of killing Amanda Peake and her two children before turning the gun on himself.

The Lexington County Sheriff TMs Department says the couple recently ended their three month relationship.

There is no doubt he wanted to make sure that the female victim was dead, says Sheriff James Metts.

Peake never filed a complaint indicating prior problems.

The person who is abusing is not necessarily suffering from an anger issue, says Bourus. They have a control issue, and so if those controlling decisions are not as effective as the person would like them to be, it often begins to become threatening.

There are warning signs to help determine if a person is in an abusive relationship with someone, and those include: the batterer will monitor where the victim can go, is highly critical of the individual's friends and tries to isolate them from family.

What I think people need to understand is when they are in an abusive relationship it doesn't get better, it always gets worse.

Bourus advises for those in an abusive relationship to create a plan to leave. She recommends victims to seek an order of protection and secure a safe place to live before leaving their situation.