Members of the Missoula County Attorney’s Office underwent training this week, October 18, to help them identify domestic abusers and potential killers. County Attorney Kirsten Pabst says the training revealed few traits to look for in an abuse situation.

“When you are looking at domestic violence situations, there are certain risk factors,” Pabst said. “One, is past threats to kill, if someone has threatened to kill their partner in the past, they are much more likely to actually act on that. Prior strangulation is a real big risk factor that we are starting to pay more attention to, and the statistics are bearing that out: 50 percent of the victims of domestic homicide have been strangled in the past by their abuser.”

The goal is to find abusers before a murder, but to do that, Pabst says certain myths need to be dispelled.

“One of the myths about extremely dangerous domestic abusers is that they are easy to identify, when in fact they are really not, you can’t pick them out of a crowd,” Pabst said. “Often times they are more likeable than their victims. They lead compartmentalized lives. You can’t look at someone in the grocery store and say “ooh, that’s a person that’s likely going to kill his wife.”

A few weeks ago, detectives from multiple Missoula law enforcement agencies took a course to help them identify and deal with strangulation cases. Pabst says Missoula has seen a rash of really serious domestic cases this year and that the crime rate for domestic violence has spiked.